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E. CAPPS^ PH.D., LL.D. T. E. PAGE, litt.d. 











V. 3 


PrinUd in Great Britain. 




THE LENGTH^ OF LIFE . . . . 2 











OUR FELLOW-MEN . . . .186 












ATTRIBUTES ..... 282 



^ CXVI. ON SELF-CONTROL ..... 332 







VIRTUE ...... 424 


APPENDIX A ...... . 451 

APPENDIX B ...... . 453 


SUBJECT INDEX ....... 459 



Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 In epistula, qua de morte Metronactis philosophi 
querebaris tamquam et potuisset diutius vivere et 
debuisset, aequitatem tuam desideravi, quae tibi in 
omni persona, in omni negotio superest, in una re 
deest, in qua omnibus. Multos inveni aequos ad- 
versus homines, adversus deos neminem. Obiurgamus 
cotidie fatum : " quare ille in medio cursu raptus 
est ? Quare ille non rapitur ? Quare senectutem et 
sibi et aliis gravem extendit ? " 

2 Utrum, obsecro te, aequius iudicas te naturae an 
tibi parere naturam ? Quid autem interest, quam 
cito exeas, unde utique exeundum est ? Non ut diu 
vivamus curandum est, sed ut satis ; nam ut diu 
vivas, fato opus est, ut satis, animo. Longa est vita, 

" A philosopher of Naples, mentioned as giving lectures 
there : cf. Ep. Ixxvi. 4. 

^ i.e., " adequately," equivalent to ws Set. 




While reading the letter in which you were 
lamenting the death of the philosopher Metronax " 
as if he might have, and indeed ought to have, lived 
longer, I missed the spirit of fairness which abounds 
in all your discussions concerning men and things, 
but is lacking when you approach one single subject, 
— as is indeed the case with us all. In other words, 
I have noticed many who deal fairly Avith their 
fellow-men, but none who deals fairly with the gods. 
We rail every day at Fate, saying : " Why has A. 
been carried off in the very middle of his career ? 
Why is not B. carried off instead ? Why should he 
prolong his old age, which is a burden to himself as 
well as to others ? " 

But tell me, pray, do you consider it fairer that 
you should obey Nature, or that Nature should obey 
you ? And what difference does it make how soon 
you depart from a place which you must depart 
from sooner or later ? We should strive, not to live 
long, but to live rightly * ; for to achieve long hfe 
you have need of Fate only, but for right Uving you 



si plena est ; impletur autem, cum animus sibi bonum 

3 suum reddidit et ad se potestatem sui transtulit. Quid 
ilium octoginta anni iuvant per inertiam exacti ? Non 
vixit iste, sed in vita moratus est, nee sero mortuus 
est, sed diu. Octoginta annis vixit. Interest, mortem 

4 eius ex quo die numeres. At ille obiit viridis. Sed 
officia boni civis, boni amici, boni filii executus est ; 
in nulla parte cessavit. Licet aetas eius inperfecta 
sit, vita perfecta est, Octoginta annis vixit. Immo 
octoginta annis fuit, nisi forte sic vixisse eum dicis, 
quomodo dicuntur arbores vivere. 

Obsecro te, Lucili, hoc agamus, ut quemadmodum 
pretiosa rerum sic vita nostra non multum pateat, 
sed multum pendeat. Actu illam metiamur, non 
tempore. Vis scire, quid inter hunc intersit vegetum 
contemptoremque fortunae functum omnibus vitae 
humanae stipendiis atque in summum bonum eius 
evectum, et ilium, cui multi anni transmissi sunt ? 
Alter post mortem quoque est, alter ante mortem 

5 Laudemus itaque et in numero felicium reponamus 
eum, cui quantulumcumque temporis contigit, bene 
conlocatum est. Vidit enim verara lucem. Non fuit 

» For a complete definition of the Supreme Good cf, 
Ep. Ixxi. 4 fF. 

* i.e., the Metronax mentioned above. 

* For the same phrase see Ep. Ixvi. 30 and footnote. 
** Cf. Ep. Ix. 4 mortem suam, antecesserunt. 



need the soul. A life is really long if it is a full life ; 
but fulness is not attained until the soul has rendered 
to itself its proper Good," that is, until it has assumed 
control over itself. What benefit does this older 
man derive from the eighty years he has spent in 
idleness ? A person like him has not lived ; he has 
merely tarried awhile in life. Nor has he died late 
in life ; he has simply been a long time dying. He 
has lived eighty years, has he ? That depends upon 
the date from which you reckon his death ! Your 
other friend,^ however, departed in the bloom of 
his manhood. But he had fulfilled all the duties of 
a good citizen, a good friend, a good son ; in no 
respect had he fallen short. His age may have been 
incomplete, but his life was complete. The other 
man has lived eighty years, has he ? Nay, he has 
existed eighty years, unless perchance you mean 
by " he has lived " what we mean when we say that 
a tree " lives." 

Pray, let us see to it, my dear Lucilius, that our 
lives, like jewels of great price, be noteworthy not 
because of their width but because of their weight." 
Let us measure them by their performance, not by 
their duration. Would you know wherein lies the 
difference between this hardy man who, despising 
Fortune, has served through every campaign of life 
and has attained to life's Supreme Good, and that 
other person over whose head many years have 
passed ? The former exists even after his death ; 
the latter has died even before he is dead.*^ 

We should therefore praise, and number in the 
company of the blest, that man who has invested 
well the portion of time, however little, that has been 
allotted to him ; for such a one has seen the true 
light. He has not been one of the common herd. 



unus e multis. Et vixit et viguit. Aliquando sereno 
usus est, aliquando, ut solet, validi sideris fulgor per 
nubila emicuit. Quid quaeris quamdiu vixerit ? 
Vivit ; ad posteros usque transiluit et se in memoriam 

6 Nee ideo mihi plures annos accedere recusaverim, 
nihil tamen mihi ad beatam vitam defuisse dicam, 
si spatium eius inciditur. Non enim ad eum diem 
me aptavi, quem ultimum mihi spes avida promiserat, 
sed nullum non tamquam ultimum aspexi. Quid me 
interrogas, quando natus sim, an inter iuniores adhue 

7 censear ? Habeo meum. Quemadmodum in minore 
corporis habitu potest homo esse perfectus, sic et in 
minore temporis modo potest vita esse perfecta. 
Aetas inter externa est, Quamdiu sim, alienum est ; 
quamdiu ero,^ ut sim, meum est. Hoc a me exige, 
ne velut per tenebras aevum ignobile emetiar, ut 
agam vitam, non ut praetervehar. 

8 Quaeris quod sit amplissimum vitae spatium ? 
Usque ad sapientiam vivere. Qui ad illam pervenit, 
attigit non longissimum finem, sed maximum. Ille 
vero glorietur audacter et dis agat gratias interque 
eos sibi, et rerum naturae inputet, quod fuit. Merito 
enim inputabit ; mehorem illi vitam reddidit quam 

^ ero Buecheler ; vero BA. 

» i.e.t the Sun. 

* As in the original comitia cenUcriata, men between the 
ages of seventeen and forty-six. 

* As riches, health, etc. 



He has not only lived, but flourished. Sometimes 
he enjoyed fair skies ; sometimes, as often happens, it 
was only through the clouds that there flashed to 
him the radiance of the mighty star." Why do you 
ask : " How long did he live ? " He still lives ! 
At one bound he has passed over into posterity and 
has consigned himself to the guardianship of memory. 

And yet I would not on that account decline for 
myself a few additional years ; although, if my life's 
space be shortened, I shall not say that I have lacked 
aught that is essential to a happy life. For I have 
not planned to live up to the very last day that my 
greedy hopes had promised me ; nay, I have looked 
upon every day as if it were my last. Why ask the 
date of my birth, or whether I am still enrolled on 
the register of the younger men ? ^ What I have is 
my own. Just as one of small stature can be a 
perfect man, so a life of small compass can be a 
perfect life. Age ranks among the external things .« 
How long I am to exist is not mine to decide, but 
how long I shall go on existing in my present way 
is in my own control. This is the only thing you 
have the right to require of me, — that I shall cease 
to measure out an inglorious age as it were in dark- 
ness, and devote myself to living instead of being 
carried along past life. 

And what, you ask, is the fullest span of life ? 
It is living until you possess wisdom. He who has 
attained wisdom has reached, not the furthermost, 
but the most important, goal. Such a one may 
indeed exult boldly and give thanks to the gods — 
aye, and to himself also — and he may count himself 
Nature's creditor for having lived. He will indeed 
have the right to do so, for he has paid her back a 
better life than he has received. He has set up the 



accepit. Exemplar boni viri posuit, qualis quantus- 
que esset ostendit. Si quid adiecisset, fuisset simile 
9 Et tamen quo usque vivimus ? Omnium rerum 
cognitione fruiti sumus. Scimus a quibus principiis^ 
natura se adtollat, quemadmodum ordinet mundum, 
per quas annum vices revocet, quemadmodum omnia, 
quae usquam erant, cluserit et se ipsam finem sul 
fecerit. Scimus sidera impetu suo vadere, praeter 
terram nihil stare, cetera continua velocitate decur- 
rere. Scimus quemadmodum solem luna praetereat, 
quare tardior velociorem post se relinquat, quomodo 
lumen accipiat aut perdat, quae causa inducat noctem, 
quae reducat diem. Illuc eundum est, ubi ista 

10 propius aspicias. " Nee hac spe," inquit sapiens ille, 
"fortius exeo, quod patere mihi ad decs meos iter 
iudico. Merui quidem admitti et iam inter illos fui 
animumque illo meum misi et ad me illi suum 
miserant. Sed toUi me de medio puta et post 
mortem nihil ex homine restare ; aeque magnum 
animum habeo, etiam si nusquam transiturus excedo." 

11 " Non tam multis vixit annis quam potuit." Et 

paucorum versuum liber est et quidem laudandus 

atque utilis ; annales Tanusii ^ scis quam ponderosi 

^ principiis Lipsius ; principalis BA. 
^ an{n)ale est anusii BA ; corr. edd. 

" i.e.. Nature herself is eternal. 

* See, however, Seneca, N.Q. vii. 2. 3 sciamus utrum 
mundus terra stante circumeat an mundo stante terra 
vertatur. For such doubts and discoveries cf. Arnold, 
Roman Stoicism, pp. 178 f. 

* See Index of Proper Names. 



pattern of a good man, showing the quahty and the 
greatness of a good man. Had another year been 
added, it would merely have been like tlie past. 

And yet how long are we to keep living ? We 
have had the joy of learning the truth about the 
universe. We know from what beginnings Nature 
arises ; how she orders the course of the heavens ; 
by what successive changes she summons back the 
year ; how she has brought to an end all things that 
ever have been, and has established herself as the 
only end of her own being." We know that the 
stars move by their own motion, and that nothing 
except the earth stands still, while all the other 
bodies run on with uninterrupted swiftness.^ We 
know how the moon outstrips the sun ; why it is that 
the slower leaves the swifter behind ; in what 
manner she receives her light, or loses it again ; 
W'hat brings on the night, and what brings back the 
day. To that place you must go where you are to 
have a closer view of all these things. " And yet," 
says the wise man, " I do not depart more valiantly be- 
cause of this hope — because I judge the path lies clear 
before me to my own gods. I have indeed earned 
admission to their presence, and in fact have already 
been in their company ; I have sent my soul to them 
as they had previously sent theirs to me. But 
suppose that I am utterly annihilated, and that 
after death nothing mortal remains ; I have no less 
courage, even if, when I depart, my course leads — - 

" But," you say, " he has not lived as many years 
as he might have lived." There are books which 
contain very few lines, admirable and useful in spite 
of their size ; and there are also the Annals of 
Tanusius," — you know how bulky the book is, and 



sint et quid vocentur. Hoc est vita quorumdam 
12 longa, et quod Tanusii sequitur annales. Numquid 
feliciorem iudicas eum, qui summo die muneris, 
quam eum, qui medio occiditur ? Numquid aliquem 
tam stulte cupidum esse vitae putas, ut iugulari in 
spoliario quam in harena malit ? Non maiore spatio 
alter alter um praecedimus. Mors per omnes it ; qui 
occidit, consequitur occisum. Minimum est, de quo 
sollicitissime agitur. Quid autem ad rem pertinet, 
quam diu vites, quod evitare non possis ? Vale. 

Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Eam partem philosophiae, quae dat propria cuique 
personae praecepta nee in universum conponit 
hominem, sed marito suadet quomodo se gerat 
adversus uxorem, patri quomodo educet liberos, 
domino quomodo servos regat, quidam solam rece- 
perunt, ceteras quasi extra utilitatem nostram va- 
gantes reliquerunt, tamquam quis posset de parte 
suadere nisi qui summam prius totius vitae complexus 

2 Sed Ariston Stoicus contrario banc partem levem 
existimat et quae non descendat in pectus usque 

" For technical terms in Epp. xciv. and xcv. see 
Appendix A. 

* See Cicero, De off. i. 3. 7 flF. for a full discussion of 
principles and duties. As one would expect, the Romans 
were more interested in" practical precepts than were the 

« Frag. 358 von Arnim. 



what men say of it. This is the case with the long 
life of certain persons, — a state which resembles the 
Annals of Tanusius ! Do you regard as more 
fortunate the fighter who is slain on the last day of 
the games than one who goes to his death in the 
middle of the festivities ? Do you believe that any- 
one is so foolishly covetous of life that he would 
rather have his throat cut in the dressing-room 
than in the amphitheatre ? It is by no longer an 
interval than this that we precede one another. 
Death visits each and all ; the slayer soon follows 
the slain. It is an insignificant trifle, after all, that 
people discuss with so much concern. And anyhow, 
what does it matter for how long a time you avoid 
that which you cannot escape ? Farewell. 


That department of philosophy which supplies 
precepts ^ appropriate to the individual case, instead 
of framing them for mankind at large — which, for 
instance, advises how a husband should conduct 
himself towards his wife, or how a father should 
bring up his children, or how a master should rule 
his slaves — -this department of philosophy, I say, 
is accepted by some as the only significant part, 
while the other departments are rejected on the 
ground that they stray beyond the sphere of practical 
needs — as if any man could give advice concerning 
a portion of life without having first gained a know- 
ledge of the sum of life as a whole ! 

But Aristo the Stoic, on the contrary, believes " 
the above-mentioned department to be of slight 
import : he holds that it does not sink into the mind, 



anilia ^ habentem praecepta, plurimum ait proficere 
ipsa decreta philosophiae constitutionemque summi 
boni. Quam qui bene intellexit ac didicit, quid in 

3 quaque re faciendum sit sibi ipse praecipit.^ Quem- 
admodum qui iaculari discit, destinatum locum captat 
et manum format ad derigenda quae mittet, cum 
hanc vim ex disciplina et exercitatione percepit, 
quocumque vult ilia utitur, didicit euim non hoc aut 
illud ferire, sed quodcumque voluerit : sic qui se ad 
totam vitam instruxit, non desiderat particulatim 
admoneri, doctus in totum, non enim quomodo cum 
uxore aut cum filio viveret, sed quomodo bene 
viveret. In lioc est et quomodo cum uxore ac 
liberis vivat. 

4 Cleanthes utilem quidem iudicat et hanc partem, 
sed inbecillam nisi ab universo fluit, nisi decreta ipsa 
philosophiae et capita cognovit. In duas ergo quae- 
stiones locus iste dividitur : utrum utilis an inutilis sit, 
et an solus virum bonum possit efficere, id est utrimi 
supervacuus sit an omnes faciat supervacuos. 

5 Qui hanc partem videri volunt supervacuam, lioc 
aiunt : " Si quid oculis oppositum moratur aciem, 
removendum est. Illo quidem obiecto operam perdit ^ 

^ anilia Biiecheler ; anilia B ; anillam or atillam A. 

* praecipit later MSS. ; praecepit BA. 

^ perdit Bueclieler and others ; perdidit BA. 



having in it nothing but old wives' precepts, and 
that the greatest benefit is derived from the actual 
dogmas of philosophy and from the definition of the 
Supreme Good. When a man has gained a complete 
understanding of this definition and has thoroughly 
learned it, he can frame for himself a precept 
directing what is to be done in a given case. Just 
as the student of javelin-throwing keeps aiming 
at a fixed target and thus trains the hand to give 
direction to the missile, and when, by instruction 
and practice, he has gained the desired ability, 
he can then employ it against any target he wishes 
(having learned to strike not any random object, but 
precisely the object at which he has aimed), — so he 
who has equipped himself for the whole of life does 
not need to be advised concerning each separate 
item, because he is now trained to meet his problem 
as a whole ; for he knows not merely how he should 
live with his wife or his son, but how he should live 
aright. In this knowledge there is also included the 
proper way of living with wife and children. 

Cleanthes holds that this department of wisdom 
is indeed useful, but that it is a feeble thing unless 
it is derived from general principles — that is, 
unless it is based upon a knowledge of the actual 
dogmas of philosophy and its main headings. This 
subject is therefore twofold, leading to two separate 
lines of inquiry : first. Is it useful or useless ? and, 
second. Can it of itself produce a good man ?■ — ^in 
other words. Is it superfluous, or does it render all 
other departments superfluous ? 

Those who urge the view that this department is 
superfluous argue as follows : "If an object that is 
held in front of the eyes interferes with the vision, 
it must be removed. For just as long as it is in the 



qui praecipit : sic ambulabis, illo manum porriges. 
Eodem modo ubi aliqua res occaecat animum et ad 
officiorum dispiciendum ordinem inpedit, nihil agit 
qui praecipit : sic vives cum patre, sic cum uxore. 
Nihil enim proficient praecepta, quamdiu menti error 
ofFusus est ; si ille discutitur, apparebit, quid cuique 
debeatur officio. Alioqui doces ilium/ quid sano 

6 faciendum sit, non efficis sanum. Pauperi ut agat 
divitem monstras ; hoc quomodo manente pauper- 
tate fieri potest ? Ostendis esurienti quid tamquam 
satur faciat ; fixam potius medullis famem detrahe. 

" Idem tibi de omnibus vitiis dico : ipsa removenda 
sunt, non praecipiendum quod fieri illis manentibus 
non potest. Nisi opiniones falsas, quibus laboramus, 
expuleris, nee avarus, quomodo pecunia utendum sit, 
exaudiet, nee timidus, quomodo periculosa contem- 

7 nat. Efficias oportet, ut sciat pecuniam nee bonum 

nee malum esse ; ostendas illi miserrimos divites. 

Efficias, ut quicquid publice expavimus, sciat non 

esse tam timendum quam fama circumfert, nee 

dolere ^ nee mori ; saepe in morte, quam pati lex est, 

magnum esse solacium, quod ad neminem redit ; in 

^ illmn cod. Rhedig.^ ; illo BA. 
* von Arnim removed quemffuam after dolere. 

" In other words, that it is one of the " external " things, 
media, indifferentia. 


way, it is a waste of time to offer such precepts as 
these : ' Walk thus and so ; extend your hand in that 
direction.' Similarly, when something blinds a man's 
soul and hinders it from seeing a line of duty clearly, 
there is no use in advising him : ' Live thus and so 
with your father, thus and so with your wife.' For 
precepts will be of no avail while the mind is clouded 
with error ; only when the cloud is dispersed will it 
be clear what one's duty is in each case. Otherwise, 
you will merely be showing the sick man what he 
ought to do if he were well, instead of making him 
well. Suppose you are trying to reveal to the poor 
man the art of ' acting rich ' ; how can the thing be 
accomplished as long as his poverty is unaltered ? 
You are trying to make clear to a starveling in what 
manner he is to act the part of one with a well-filled 
stomach ; the first requisite, however, is to relieve 
him of the hunger that grips his vitals. 

" The same thing, I assure you, holds good of 
all faults ; the faults themselves must be removed, 
and precepts should not be given which cannot possibly 
be carried out while the faults remain. Unless you 
drive out the false opinions under which we suffer, 
the miser will never receive instruction as to the 
proper use of his money, nor the coward regarding 
the way to scorn danger. You must make the miser 
know that money is neither a good nor an evil ; « show 
him men of wealth who are miserable to the last 
degree. You must make the coward know that the 
things which generally frighten us out of our wits 
are less to be feared than rumour advertises them to 
be, whether the object of fear be suffering or death ; 
that when death comes — fixed by law for us all to 
suffer — it is often a great solace to reflect that it 
can never come again ; that in the midst of suffering 



dolore pro remedio futuram obstinationem animi, 
qui levius sibi facit, quicquid contumaciter passus 
est. Optimam doloris esse naturam, quod non 
potest nee qui extenditur magnus esse nee qui est 
magnus extendi ; omnia fortiter excipienda, quae 
nobis mundi necessitas imperat. 

8 " His decretis cum ilium in conspectum suae con- 
dicionis adduxeris et cognoverit beatam esse vitam 
non quae secundum voluptatem ^ est, sed secundum 
naturam, cum virtutem unicum bonum hominis 
adamaverit, turpitudinem solum malum fugerit, re- 
liqua omnia, divitias, honores, bonam valitudinem 
vires, imperia, scierit esse mediam partem nee bonii, 
adnumerandam nee malis, monitorem non deside- 
rabit ^ ad singula, qui dicat : sic incede, sic cena. 
Hoc viro hoc feminae, hoc marito hoc caelibi con- 

9 venit. Ista enim qui diligentissime monent, ipsi 
facere non possunt. Haec paedagogus puero, haec 
avia nepoti praecipit, et irascendum non esse magister 
iracundissimus disputat. Si ludum litterarium. in- 
traveris, scies ista, quae ingenti supercilio philosophi 
iactant, in puerili esse praescripto. 

10 "Utrumdeindemanifestaandubiapraecipies? Non 
desiderant manifesta monitorem, praecipienti dubia 
non creditur ; supervacuum est ergo praecipere. Id 

^ voluptatem later MSS. ; voluntatem BA. 
^ desiderabit later MSS. ; desideravit BA. 

" Compare, among similar passages, Ep. xxiv. 14 levis 
eSf si/erre possum, brevis es, si/erre non possum. 



resoluteness of soul will be as good as a cure, for the 
soul renders lighter any burden that it endures with 
stubborn defiance. Remember that pain has this 
most excellent quality : if prolonged it cannot be 
severe, and if severe it cannot be prolonged ; " and 
that we should bravely accept whatever commands 
the inevitable laws of the universe lay upon us. 

" When by means of such doctrines you have 
wrought the erring man to a sense of his own 
condition, when he has learned that the happy life 
is not that which conforms to pleasure, but that 
which conforms to Nature, when he has fallen deeply 
'n love with virtue as man's sole good and has 
yoided baseness as man's sole evil, and when 
e knows that all other things — riches, office, health, 
strength, dominion — fall in between and are not 
to be reckoned either among goods or among evils, 
then he will not need a monitor for every separate 
action, to say to him : ' Walk thus and so ; eat thus 
and so. This is the conduct proper for a man and 
that for a woman ; this for a married man and that 
for a bachelor.' Indeed, the persons who take the 
greatest pains to proffer such advice are themselves 
unable to put it into practice. It is thus that the 
pedagogue advises the boy, and the grandmother 
her grandson ; it is the hottest-tempered school- 
master who contends that one should never lose 
one's temper. Go into any elementary school, and 
you will learn that just such pronouncements, 
emanating from high-browed philosophers, are to be 
found in the lesson-book for boys ! 

" Shall you then offer precepts that are clear, or 
precepts that are doubtful ? Those which are clear 
need no counsellor, and doubtful precepts gain no 
credence ; so the giving of precepts is superfluous. 

VOL. Ill C 17 


adeo sic disce . Si id mones, quod obscurum est et ambi- 
guurri, probationibus adiuvandum erit. Si probaturus 
es, ilia per quae probas plus valent satisque per se sunt. 

11 Sic amico utere, sic cive, sic socio. Quare ? Quia 
iustum est. Omnia ista mihi de iustitia locus tradit. 
Illic invenio aequitatem per se expetendam, nee metu 
nos ad illam cogi nee mercede conduci, non esse 
iustum, cui quidquam in hac virtute placet praeter 
ipsam. Hoc cum persuasi mihi et perbibi/ quid ista 
praecepta proficiunt, quae eruditum docent ? Prae- 
cepta dare scienti supervacuum est, nescienti parum. 
Audire enim debet non tantum, quid sibi prae- 

12 cipiatur, sed etiam quare. Utrum, inquam, veras 
opiniones habenti de bonis malisque sunt necessaria 
an non habenti ? Qui non habet, nihil a te adiu- 
vabitur ; aures eius contraria monitionibus tuis fama 
possedit. Qui habet exactum iudicium de fugiendis 
petendisque, scit, quid ^ sibi faciendum sit, etiam te 
tacente. Tota ergo pars ista philosophiae sum- 
moveri potest. 

13 " Duo sunt, propter quae delinquimus : aut inest 
animo pravis opinionibus malitia contracta aut, etiam 

si non est falsis occupatus, ad falsa proclivis est et 

^ perbibi later MSS. ; perhibi BA. 
* scit quid later MSS. ; scit BA, 


That this is so learn thus : if you are counselling 
someone on a matter which is of doubtful cleairness 
and doubtful meaning, you must supplement your 
precepts by proofs ; and if you must resort to 
proofs, your means of proof are more effective and 
more satisfactory in themselves, ' It is thus that you 
must treat your friend, thus your fellow-citizen, thus 
your associate.' And why ? ' Because it is just.' 
Yet I can find all that material included under the 
head of Justice. I find there that fair play is 
desirable in itself, that we are not forced into 
it by fear nor hired to that end for pay, and that 
no man is just who is attracted by anything in this 
virtue other than the virtue itself. After convincing 
myself of this view and thoroughly absorbing it, 
what good can I obtain from such precepts, which 
only teach one who is already trained ? To one who 
knows, it is superfluous to give precepts ; to one 
who does not know, it is insufficient. For he must 
be told, not only what he is being instructed to do, 
but also why. I repeat, are such precepts useful 
to him who has correct ideas about good and evil, 
or to one who has them not ? The latter will 
receive no benefit from you ; for some idea that 
clashes with your counsel has already monopolized 
his attention. He who has made a careful decision 
as to what should be sought and what should be 
avoided knows what he ought to do, without a single 
word from you. Therefore, that whole department 
of philosophy may be abolished. 

" There are two reasons why we go astray : either 
there is in the soul an evil quality which has been 
brought about by wrong opinions, or, even if not 
possessed by false ideas, the soul is prone to false- 
hood and rapidly corrupted by some outward appear- 



cito specie quo non oportet trahente corrumpitur. 
Itaque debemus aut percurare mentem aegram et 
vitiis liberare, aut vacantem ^ quidem, sed ad peiora 
pronam praeoccupare. Utrumque decreta philo- 
sophiae faciunt ; ergo tale praecipiendi genus nil 

14 agit. Praeterea si praecepta singulis damns, incon- 
prehensibile opus est. Alia enim dare debemus 
faeneranti, alia colenti agrum, alia negotianti, alia 
regum amicitias sequenti, alia pares, alia inferiores 

15 amaturo. In matrimonio praecipies, quomodo vivat 
cum uxore aliquis, quam virginem duxit, quomodo 
cum ea, quae alicuius ante matrimonium experta est, 
quemadmodum cum locuplete, quemadmodum cum 
indotata. An non putas aliquid esse discriminis inter 
sterilem et fecundam, inter provectiorem et puellam, 
inter matrem et novercam ? Omnes species conplecti 
non possumus, atqui singulae propria exigunt ; leges 
autem philosophiae breves sunt et omnia alligant. 

16 Adice nunc, quod sapientiae praecepta finita debent 
esse et certa : si qua finiri non possunt, extra sa- 
pientiam sunt ; sapientia rerum terminos novit. 

" Ergo ista praeceptiva pars summovenda est, quia 
quod paucis promittit, praestare omnibus non potest ; 

17 sapientia autem omnes tenet. Inter insaniam pub- 

* vacantem later MSS. ; vagantem BA. 


ance which attracts it in the wrong direction. For 
this reason it is our duty either to treat carefully 
the diseased mind and free it from faults, or to 
take possession of the mind when it is still un- 
occupied and yet incHned to what is evil. Both these 
results can be attained by the main doctrines of philo- 
sophy; therefore the giving of such precepts is of no 
use. Besides, if we give forth precepts to each 
individual, the task is stupendous. For one class of 
advice should be given to the financier, another to the 
farmer, another to the business man, another to one 
who cultivates the good graces of royalty, another 
to him who will seek the friendship of his equals, 
another to him who will court those of lower rank. 
In the case of marriage, you will advise one person 
how he should conduct himself with a wife who 
before her marriage was a maiden, and another how 
he should behave with a woman who had previously 
been wedded to another ; how the husband of a rich 
woman should act, or another man with a dowerless 
spouse. Or do you not think that there is some 
difference between a barren woman and one who 
bears children, between one advanced in years and 
a mere girl, between a mother and a step-mother ? 
We cannot include all the types, and yet each type 
requires separate treatment ; but the laws of philo- 
sophy are concise and are binding in all cases. 
Moreover, the precepts of wisdom should be definite 
and certain : when things cannot be defined, they 
are outside the sphere of wisdom ; for wisdom knows 
the proper limits of things. 

" We should therefore do away with this depart- 
ment of precepts, because it cannot afford to all what 
it promises only to a few ; wisdom, however, embraces 
all. Between the insanity of people in general and 



licam et banc, quae medicis traditur, nihil interest 
nisi quod haec morbo laborat, ilia opinionibus falsis. 
Altera causas furoris traxit ex valitudine, altera 
animi mala valitudo est. Si quis furioso praecepta 
det, quomodo loqui debeat, quomodo procedere, 
quoniodo in publico se gerere, quomodo in privato, 
erit ipso, quern monebit, insanior. Ei bilis ^ nigra 
curanda est et ipsa furoris causa removenda. Idem 
in hoc alio animi furore faciendum est. Ipse discuti 
debet ; alioqui abibunt in vanum monentium verba." 

18 Haec ab Aristone dicuntur ; cui respondebimus ad 
singula. Primum adversus illud, quod ait, si quid 
obstat oculo et inpedit visum, debere removeri. 
Fateor huic non esse opus praeceptis ad videndum, 
sed remedio, quo purgetur acies et officientem sibi 
moram efFugiat. Natura enim videmus, cui usum sui 
reddit qui removet^ obstantia. Quid autem cuique 

19 debeatur officio, natura non docet. Deinde cuius 
curata suflPusio est, is non protinus cum visum 
recepit, aliis quoque potest reddere ; malitia liberatus 
et liberat. Non opus est exhortatione, ne consilio 
quidem, ut colorum proprietates oculus intellegat, a 
nigro album etiam nuUo monente distinguet. Multis 

^ ei bilis Kronenberg ; sibilis BA ; bilis vulg. 
2 removet ed. Rom. ; removit BA. 

" For the same figure, in the same connexion, see Ep, 
Ixviii. 8 in pectore ipso collectio et vomica est, 

* By means of hellebore, Lat. veratrum, the favourite 
cathartic of the ancients. 


the insanity which is subject to medical treatment, 
there is no difference, except that the latter is 
suffering from disease and the former from false 
opinions.'* In the one case, the symptoms of madness 
may be traced to ill-health ; the other is the ill-health 
of the mind. If one should offer precepts to a mad- 
man — how he ought to speak, how he ought to 
walk, how he ought to conduct himself in public and 
in private, he would be more of a lunatic than the 
person whom he was advising. What is really 
necessary is to treat the black bile ^ and remove the 
essential cause of the madness. And this is what 
should also be done in the other case — that of the 
mind diseased. The madness itself must be shaken 
off; otherwise, your words of advice will vanish into 
thin air." 

This is what Aristo says ; and I shall answer his 
arguments one by one. First, in opposition to what 
he says about one's obligation to remove that whicli 
blocks the eye and hinders the vision. I admit that 
such a person does not need precepts in order to see, 
but that he needs treatment for the curing of his 
eyesight and the getting rid of the hindrance that 
handicaps him. For it is Nature that gives us our 
eyesight ; and he who removes obstacles restores to 
Nature her proper function. But Nature does not 
teach us our duty in every case. Again, if a man's 
cataract is cured, he cannot, immediately after his 
recovery, give back their eyesight to other men 
also ; but when we are freed from evil we can free 
others also. There is no need of encouragement, 
or even of counsel, for the eye to be able to dis- 
tinguish different colours ; black and white can be 
differentiated without prompting from another. 



contra praeceptis eget animus, ut videat, quid agen- 
dum sit in vita ; quamquam oculis quoque aegros 

20 medicus non tantum curat sed etiam monet. " Non 
est," inquit, " quod protinus inbecillam aciem com- 
mittas inprobo lumini ; a tenebris primum ad um- 
brosa precede, deinde plus aude et paulatim claram 
lucem pati adsuesce. Non est quod post cibum 
studeas, non est quod plenis oculis ac tumentibus 
imperes ; adflatum et vim frigoris in os occurrentis 
evita " ; alia eiusmodi, quae non minus quam medica- 
menta proficiunt. Adicit remediis medicina con- 

21 " Error," inquit, " est causa peccandi. Hunc nobis 
praecepta non detrahunt nee expugnant opiniones 
de bonis ac malis falsas." Concedo per se efficacia 
praecepta non esse ad evertendam pravam animi 
persuasionem ; sed non ideo nihil ne ^ aliis quidem 
adiecta proficiunt. Primum memoriam renovant ; 
deinde quae in universo confusius videbantur, in 
partes divisa diligentius considerantur. Aut isto ^ 
modo licet et consolationes dicas supervacuas et 
exhortationes ; atqui non sunt supervacuae, ergo ne 
monitiones quidem. 

22 " Stultum est," inquit, " praecipere aegro, quid 
facere tamquam sanus debeat, cum restituenda 
sanitas sit, sine qua inrita sunt praecepta." Quid, 

^ nihil ne added by Buecheler. 
* aut isto Buecheler ; aut in isto BA. 

» This is in harmony with the idea of Socrates ; sin is a 
lack of knowledge regarding what is true and what is false. 

* i.e., Aristo and others. 


The mind, on the other hand, needs many precepts 
in order to see what it should do in hfe ; although in 
eye-treatment also the physician not only accom- 
plishes the cure, but gives advice into the bargain. 
He says : " There is no reason why you should at 
once expose your weak vision to a dangerous glare ; 
begin with darkness, and then go into half-lights, 
and finally be more bold, accustoming yourself grad- 
ually to the bright light of day. There is no reason 
why you should study immediately after eating; 
there is no reason why you should impose hard tasks 
upon your eyes when they are swollen and inflamed ; 
avoid winds and strong blasts of cold air that blow 
into your face," — and other suggestions of the same 
sort, which are just as valuable as drugs themselves. 
The physician's art supplements remedies by advice. 

" But," comes the reply, " error is the source of 
sin ; " precepts do not remove error, nor do they 
rout our false opinions on the subject of Good and 
Evil." I admit that precepts alone are not effective 
in overthrowing the mind's mistaken beliefs ; but 
they do not on that account fail to be of service when 
they accompany other measures also. In the first 
place, they refresh the memory ; in the second place, 
when sorted into their proper classes, the matters 
which showed themselves in a jumbled mass when 
considered as a whole, can be considered in this way 
with greater care. According to our opponents' '' 
theory, you might even say that consolation and 
exhortation were superfluous. Yet they are not 
superfluous ; neither, therefore, is counsel. 

" But it is folly," they retort, " to prescribe what 
a sick man ought to do, just as if he were well, when 
you should really restore his health ; for without 
health precepts are not worth a jot." But have not 



quod habent aegri quaedam sanique communia, de 
quibus admonendi sunt ? Tamquam ne avide cibos 
adpetant, ut lassitudinem vitent. Habent quaedam 

23 praecepta communia pauper et dives. " Sana," ^ 
inquit, " avaritiam, et nihil habebis quod admoneas 
aut pauperem aut divitem, si cupiditas utriusque 
consedit.^ " Quid, quod aliud est non concupiscere 
pecuniam, aliud uti pecunia scire ? Cuius avari 
modum ignorant, etiam non avari usum. " ToUe," 
inquit, " errores ; supervacua praecepta sunt." 
Falsum est. Puta enim avaritiam relaxatam, puta 
adstrictam esse luxuriam, temeritati frenos iniectos, 
ignaviae subditum calcar ; etiam remotis vitiis qmd 
et quemadmodum debeamus facere, discendum est. 

24 " Nihil," inquit, " efficient monitiones admotae 
gravibus vitiis." Ne medicina quidem morbos in- 
sanabiles vincit, tamen adhibetur aliis in remedium, 
aliis in levamentum. Ne ipsa quidem universae 
philosophiae vis, licet totas in hoc vires suas advocet, 
duram iam et veterem animis extrahet pestem. Sed 

25 non ideo nihil sanat, quia non omnia. " Quid prodest," 
inquit, " aperta monstrare ? " Plurimum ; interdum 
enim scimus nee adtendimus. Non docet admonitio, 

^ Sana later MSS. ; saniat BA. 
=* consedit Schweighaeuser ; considet BA. 



sick men and sound men something in common, 
concerning which they need continual advice ? 
For example, not to grasp greedily after food, and 
to avoid getting over-tired. Poor and rich have 
certain precepts which fit them both. " Cure their 
greed, then," people say, " and you will not need to 
lecture either the poor or the rich, provided that in the 
case of each of them the craving has subsided." But 
is it not one thing to be free from lust for money, 
and another thing to know how to use this money ? 
Misers do not know the proper limits in money 
matters, but even those who are not misers fail to 
comprehend its use. Then comes the reply : " Do 
away with error, and your precepts become un- 
necessary." That is wrong ; for suppose that 
avarice is slackened, that luxury is confined, that 
rashness is reined in, and that laziness is pricked by 
the spur ; even after vices are removed, we must 
continue to learn what we ought to do, and how we 
ought to do it. 

" Nothing," it is said, " will be accomplished by 
applying advice to the more serious faults." No ; 
and not even medicine can master incurable diseases ; 
it is nevertheless used in some cases as a remedy, in 
others as a relief. Not even the power of universal 
philosophy, though it summon all its strength for 
the purpose, will remove from the soul what is now a 
stubborn and chronic disease. But Wisdom, merely 
because she cannot cure everything, is not incapable 
of making cures. People say : " What good does 
it do to point out the obvious ? " A great deal of 
good ; for we sometimes know facts without paying 
attention to them. Advice is not teaching ; it 
merely engages the attention and rouses us, and 



sed advertit, sed excitat, sed memoriam continet nee 
patitur elabi. Pleraque ante oculos posita transimus. 
Admonere genus adhortandi est. Saepe animus 
etiam aperta dissimulat ; ingerenda est itaque illi 
notitia rerum notissimarum. Ilia hoc loco in Va- 
tinium Calvi repetenda sententia est : " factum esse 

26 ambitum scitis, et hoc vos scire omnes sciunt." Scis 
amicitias sancte colendas esse, sed non facis. Scis 
inprobum esse, qui ab uxore pudicitiam exigit, ipse 
alienarum corrupter uxorum ; scis ut illi nil cum 
adultero, sic ^ tibi nil esse debere cum paelice, et non 
facis. Itaque subinde ad memoriam reducendus es ; 
non enim reposita ilia esse oportet, sed in promptu. 
Quaecumque salutaria sunt, saepe agitari debent, 
saepe versari, ut non tantum nota sint nobis, sed 
etiam parata. Adice nunc, quod aperta quoque 
apertiora fieri solent. 

27 "Si dubia sunt," inquit, " quae praecipis, proba- 
tiones adicere debebis ; ergo illae, non praecepta 
proficient." Quid, quod etiam sine probationibus 
ipsa monentis auctoritas prodest ? Sic quomodo 
iurisconsultorum valent responsa, etiam si ratio non 
redditur. Praeterea ipsa, quae praecipiuntur, per se 
multum habent ponderis, utique si aut carmini 
intexta sunt aut prosa oratione in sententiam 

^ sic later MSS. ; sit BA. 

" monitio includes consolatio, dissuasio, obiurgatio, 
laudatio, and hortatio. Cf. § 39 of this letter. 

* Quoted also by Quintilian, vi. 1. 13. Between the 
years 58 and 54 b.c. Calvus, a friend of the poet Catullus, 
in three famous speeches prosecuted Vatinius, one of the 
creatures of Caesar who had illegally obtained office. 



concentrates the memory, and keeps it from losing 
grip. We miss much that is set before our very 
eyes. Advice is, in fact, a sort of exhortation.** 
The mind often tries not to notice even that which 
lies before our eyes ; we must therefore force upon 
it the knowledge of things that are perfectly well 
known. One might repeat here the saying of 
Calvus about Vatinius : ^ " You all know that bribery 
has been going on, and everyone knows that you 
know it." You know that friendship should be 
scrupulously honoured, and yet you do not hold 
it in honour. You know that a man does wrong 
in requiring chastity of his wife while he himself 
is intriguing with the wives of other men ; you 
know that, as your wife should have no dealings 
with a lover, neither should you yourself with 
a mistress ; and yet you do not act accordingly. 
Hence, you must be continually brought to re- 
member these facts ; for they should not be in 
storage, but ready for use. And whatever is 
wholesome should be often discussed and often 
brought before the mind, so that it may be not 
only familiar to us, but also ready to hand. And 
remember, too, that in this way what is clear often 
becomes clearer. 

" But if," comes the answer. " your precepts are 
not obvious, you will be bound to add proofs ; hence 
the proofs, and not the precepts, will be helpful." But 
cannot the influence of the monitor avail even without 
proofs ? It is like the opinions of a legal expert, 
which hold good even though the reasons for them are 
not delivered. Moreover, the precepts which are 
given are of great weight in themselves, whether 
they be woven into the fabric of song, or condensed 
into prose proverbs, like the famous Wisdom of 



coartata, sicut ilia Catoniana : " emas non quod 
opus est, sed quod necesse est ; quod non opus est, 
asse carum est," qualia sunt ilia aut reddita oraculo 

28 aut similia : " tempori parce," " te nosce." Num- 
quid rationem exiges, cum tibi aliquis hos dixerit 
versus ? 

Iniuriarum remedium est oblivio. 

Audentes fortuna iuvat, piger ipse sibi opstat. 

Advocatum ista non quaerunt ; adfectus ipsos tan- 
gunt et natura vim suam exercente proficiunt. 

29 Omnium honestarum rerum semina animi gerunt, 
quae admonitione excitantur, non aliter quam scin- 
tilla flatu levi adiuta ignem suum explicat. Erigitur 
virtus, cum tacta est et inpulsa. Praeterea quaedam 
sunt quidem in animo, sed parum prompta, quae 
incipiunt in expedito esse, cum dicta sunt. Quaedam 
diversis locis iacent sparsa, quae contrahere inexer- 
citata mens non potest. Itaque in unum conferenda 
sunt et iungenda, ut plus valeant animumque magis 

30 adlevent. Aut si praecepta nihil adiuvant, omnis 
institutio tollenda est, ipsa natura contenti esse 

Hoc qui dicunt, non vident alium esse ingenii 
mobilis et erecti, alium tardi et hebetis, utique 
alium alio ingeniosiorem. Ingenii vis praeceptis 
aUtur et crescit novasque persuasiones adicit innatis 

31 et depravata corrigit. " Si quis," inquit, " non habet 

" Catonis Reliq. p. 79 Jordan. 

* From Publilius Synis— Frag, 250 Ribbeck. 

* A verse made up from Vergil, yien. x. 284., and an 
unknown author. '' i.e., who would abolish precepts. 



Cato " : " Buy not what you need, but what you must 
have. That which you do not need, is dear even at 
a farthing." Or those oracular or oracular-hke 
replies, such as " Be thrifty with time ! " " Know 
thyself!" Shall you not call yourself to account 
when someone repeats to you lines like these : 

Forgetting trouble is the way to cure it.* 

Fortune favours the brave ; but the coward is foiled by his 
faint heart." 

Such maxims need no special pleader ; they go 
straight to our emotions, and help us simply because 
JS^ature is exercising her proper function. The soul 
carries within itself the seed of everything that is 
honourable, and this seed is stirred to growth by 
advice, as a spark that is fanned by a gentle breeze 
develops its natural fire. Virtue is aroused by a 
touch, a shock. Moreover, there are certain things 
which, though in the mind, yet are not ready to 
hand but begin to function easily as soon as they 
are put into words. Certain things lie scattered 
about in various places, and it is impossible for the 
unpractised mind to arrange them in order. There- 
fore, we should bring them into unity, and join them, 
so that they may be more powerful and more of an 
uplift to the soul. Or, if precepts do not avail at all, 
then every method of instruction should be abolished, 
and we should be content with Nature alone. 

Those who maintain this view ^ do not understand 
that one man is lively and alert of wit, another 
sluggish and dull, while certainly some men have 
more intelligence than others. The strength of 
the wit is nourished and kept growing by precepts ; 
it adds new points of view to those which are in- 
born and corrects depraved ideas. " But suppose," 



recta decreta, quid ilium admonitiones iuvabunt 
vitiosis obligatum ? " Hoc scilicet, ut illis liberetur ; 
non enim extincta in illo indoles naturalis est, sed 
obscurata et oppressa. Sic quoque temptat resurgere 
et contra prava nititur, nancta vero praesidium et 
adiuta praeceptis evalescit, si tamen illam diutina 
pestis non infecit nee enecuit ; banc enim ne dis- 
ciplina quidem philosophiae toto inpetu suo conisa 
restituet. Quid enim interest inter decreta philo- 
sophiae et praecepta, nisi quod ilia generalia prae- 
cepta sunt, haec specialia ? Utraque res praecipit, 
sed altera in totum, particulatim altera. 

32 "Si quis," inquit, " recta habet et honesta decreta, 
hie ex supervacuo monetur." Minime ; nam hie 
quoque doctus quidem est facere quae debet, sed 
haec non satis perspicit. Non enim tantum adfecti- 
bus inpedimur, quo minus probanda faciamus, sed 
inperitia inveniendi quid quaeque res exigat. Habe- 
mus interdum compositum animum, sed residem et 
inexercitatum ad inveniendam ^ officiorum viam, 

33 quam admonitio demonstrat. " Expelle," inquit, 
" falsas opinion es de bonis et mahs, in locum autem 
earum veras repone, et nihil habebit admonitio, quod 
agat." Ordinatur sine dubio ista ratione animus, 

^ ad inveniendam later MSS. ; adveniendam BA. 


people retort, " that a man is not the possessor of 
sound dogmas, how can advice help him when he is 
chained down, as it were by vicious dogmas ? " 
In this, assuredly, that he is freed therefrom ; for 
his natural disposition has not been crushed, but 
over-shadowed and kept down. Even so it goes on 
endeavouring to rise again, struggling against the 
influences that make for evil ; but when it wins 
support and receives the aid of precepts, it grows 
stronger, provided only that the chronic trouble has 
not corrupted nor annihilated the natural man. For 
in such a case, not even the training that comes from 
philosophy, striving with all its might, will make 
restoration. What difference, indeed, is there 
between dogmas the of philosophy and precepts, 
unless it be this — that the former are general and 
the latter special ? Both deal with advice — the 
one through the universal, the other through the 

Some say : "If one is familiar with upright and 
honourable dogmas, it will be superfluous to advise 
him." By no means ; for this person has indeed 
learned to do things which he ought to do ; but he 
does not see with sufficient clearness what these 
things are. For we are hindered from accomplishing 
praiseworthy deeds not only by our emotions, but 
also by want of practice in discovering the demands 
of a particular situation. Our minds are often under 
good control, and yet at the same time are inactive and 
untrained in finding the path of duty, — and advice 
makes this clear. Again, it is written : " Cast out all 
false opinions concerning Good and Evil, but replace 
them with true opinions ; then advice will have no 
function to perform." Order in the soul can doubt- 
less be established in this way ; but these are not the 

VOL. Ill D 33 


sed non ista tantum. Nam quamvis argumentis 
collectum sit, quae bona malaque sint, nihilominus 
habent praecepta partes suas. Et prudentia et 
iustitia officiis constat, officia praeceptis disponuntur. 

34 Praeterea ^ ipsum de malis bonisque iudicium con- 
firmatur officiorum exsecutione, ad quam praecepta 
perducunt. Utraque enim inter se consentiunt ; nee 
ilia possunt praecedere, ut non haec sequantur. Et 
haec ordinem sequuntur suum ; unde apparet ilia 

35 " Infinita," inquit, " praecepta sunt." Falsum est. 
Nam de maximis ac necessariis rebus non sunt 
infinita. Tenues autem difFerentias habent, quas 
exigunt tempora, loca, personae, sed his quoque 

36 dantur praecepta generalia. " Nemo," inquit, " prae- 
ceptis curat insaniam ; ergo ne malitiam quidem." 
Dissimile est. Nam si insaniam sustuleris, sanitas 
redit, at ^ si falsas opiniones exclusimus, non statim 
sequitur dispectus rerum agendarum. Ut sequatur, 
tamen admonitio conroborabit rectam de bonis 
malisque sententiam. Illud quoque falsum est, nihil 
apud insanos proficere praecepta. Nam quemad- 
modum sola non prosunt, sic curationem adiuvant. 
Et denuntiatio et castigatio insanos coercuit. De ilUs 
nunc insanis loquor, quibus mens mota est, non 

37 " Leges," inquit, " ut faciamus, quod oportet, non 
efficiunt, et quid aliud sunt quam minis mixta prae- 
cepta ? " Primum omnium ob hoc illae non per- 
suadent, quia minantur, at haec non cogunt, sed 

^ praeterea later MSS. ; praeter BA. 
* redit, at Buecheler ; redita est BA. 

" A further answer to the objection in § 17 above, M'here 
all madness is held curable by physical treatment. 


only ways. For although we may infer by proofs just 
what Good and Evil are, nevertheless precepts have 
their proper role. Prudence and justice consist of 
certain duties ; and duties are set in order by 
precepts. Moreover, judgment as to Good and Evil 
is itself strengthened by following up our duties, 
and precepts conduct us to this end. For both are 
in accord with each other ; nor can precepts take the 
lead unless the duties follow. They observe their 
natural order ; hence precepts clearly come first. 

" Precepts," it is said, " are numberless." Wrong 
again ! For they are not numberless so far as 
concerns important and essential things. Of course 
there are slight distinctions, due to the time, or the 
place, or the person ; but even in these cases, 
precepts are given which have a general application. 
" No one, however," it is said, " cures madness by 
precepts, and therefore not wickedness either." 
There is a distinction ; for if you rid a man of 
insanity, he becomes sane again, but if we have 
removed false opinions, insight into practical conduct 
does not at once follow. Even though it follows, 
counsel will none the less confirm one's right opinion 
concerning Good and Evil. And it is also wrong to 
believe that precepts are of no use to madmen. 
For though, by themselves, they are of no avail, yet 
they are a help towards the cure." Both scolding 
and chastening rein in a lunatic. Note that I here 
refer to lunatics whose wits are disturbed but not 
hopelessly gone. 

" Still," it is objected, " laws do not always make 
us do what we ought to do ; and what else are laws 
than precepts mingled with threats ? " Now first of 
all, the laws do not persuade just because they 
threaten ; precepts, however, instead of coercing, 



exorant. Deinde leges a scelere deterrent, prae- 
cepta in officium adhortantur. His adice quod ^ 
leges quoque proficiunt ad bonos mores, utique si 

38 non tantum imperant, sed docent. In hac re dis- 
sentio a Posidonio, qui " inprobo," inquit, " quod^ 
Platonis legibus adiecta principia sunt. Legem enim 
brevem esse oportet, quo facilius ab imperitis te- 
neatur. Velut emissa divinitus vox sit ; iubeat, 
non disputet. Nihil videtur mihi frigidius, nihil 
ineptius quam lex cum prologo. Mone,^ die, quid 
me velis fecisse ; non disco, sed pareo." Proficiunt 
vero * ; itaque maUs moribus uti videbis civitates usas 
malis legibus. " At non apud omnis proficiunt." 

39 Ne philosophia quidem ; nee ideo inutilis et for- 
mandis animis inefficax est. Quid autem ? Philo- 
sophia non vitae lex est ? Sed putemus non proficere 
leges ; non ideo sequitur, ut ne monitiones quidem 
proficiant. Aut sic et consolationes nega proficere 
dissuasionesque et adhortationes et obiurgationes et 
laudationes. Omnia ista monitionum genera sunt. 
Per ista ad perfectum animi statum pervenitur. 

40 Nulla res magis animis honesta induit dubiosque et 
in pravum inclinabiles revocat ad rectum quam 
bonorum virorum conversatio. Paulatim enim de- 
scendit in pectora, et vim praeceptorum obtinet 
frequenter aspici, frequenter audiri. 

^ quod later MSS. ; quo BA. 

" qui inprobo inquit quod Rossbach ; qui pro {eo) quod 

* cum prologo. mone Erasmus ; cum prolegomene BA. 

* proficiunt vero Schweighaeuser ; proficiuntur BA. 

" See, for example, the Fifth Book, which opens with 
the preliminary remarks of the Athenian Stranger (pp. 
726-34 St.). 

' A frequent thought in Seneca, cf. Ep. xxv. 6, Hi. 8, etc. 



correct men by pleading. Again, laws frighten one 
out of committing crime, while precepts urge a man 
on to his duty. Besides, the laws also are of assist- 
ance towards good conduct, provided that they 
instruct as well as command. On this point I dis- 
agree with Posidonius, who says : " I do not think 
that Plato's Laws should have the preambles " added 
to them. For a law should be brief, in order that 
the uninitiated may grasp it all the more easily. It 
should be a voice, as it were, sent down from heaven ; 
it should command, not discuss. Nothing seems to 
me more dull or more foolish than a law with a 
preamble. Warn me, tell me what you wish me to 
do ; I am not learning but obeying." But laws 
framed in this way are helpful ; hence you will 
notice that a state with defective laws will have 
defective morals. " But," it is said, " they are not 
of avail in every case." Well, neither is philosophy ; 
and yet philosophy is not on that account ineffect- 
ual and useless in the training of the soul. Further- 
more, is not philosophy the Law of Life ? Grant, 
if we will, that the laws do not avail ; it does 
not necessarily follow that advice also should not 
avail. On this ground, you ought to say that 
consolation does not avail, and warning, and ex- 
hortation, and scolding, and praising ; since they 
are all varieties of advice. It is by such methods 
that we arrive at a perfect condition of mind. 
Nothing is more successful in bringing honourable 
influences to bear upon the mind, or in straightening 
out the wavering spirit that is prone to evil, than 
association with good men.^ For the frequent 
seeing, the frequent hearing of them little by little 
sinks into the heart and acquires the force of 



Occursus mehercules ipse sapientium iuvat, et est 
aliquid, quod ex magno viro vel tacente ^ proficias, 

41 Nee tibi facile dixerim quemadmodum prosit, sicut 
illud intellego ^ profuisse, " Minuta quaedam," ut 
ait Phaedon, " animalia cum mordent non sentiuntur ; 
adeo tenuis illis et fallens in periculum vis est. 
Tumor indicat morsum et in ipso tumore nullum 
vulnus apparet. Idem tibi in conversatione virorum 
sapientium eveniet : non deprehendes, quemad- 
modum aut quando tibi prosit, profuisse deprendes." 

42 Quorsus, inquis, hoc pertinet ? Aeque praecepta 
bona, si saepe tecum sint, profutura quam bona 
exempla. Pythagoras ait alium animum fieri intran- 
tibus templum deorumque simulacra ex vicino 
cernentibus et alicuius oraculi opperientibus vocem. 

43 Quis autem negabit ^ f eriri quibusdam praeceptis 
efficaciter etiam inperitissimos ? Velut his brevis- 
simis vocibus, sed multum habentibus ponderis : 

Nil nimis. 

Avarus animus nuUo satiatur lucro. 

Ab alio exspectes, alteri quod feceris. 

Haec cum ictu quodam audimus, nee ulli licet 
dubitare aut interrogare " quare ? " ; adeo etiara 

44 sine ratione ipsa Veritas ducit. Si reverentia frenat 
animos ac vitia compescit, cur non et admonitio idem 
possit ? Si inponit pudorem castigatio, cur adroo- 
nitio non faciat, etiam si nudis praeceptis utitur ? 
Ilia vero efficacior est et altius penetrat, quae 

^ tacente later MSS. ; iacente BA. 
' intellego Schweighaeuser ; intellegam MSS. 
' negabit Buecheler and Windhaus ; negavit BA. 

" Presumably Phaedo the friend of Plato and pupil of 
Socrates, author of dialogues resembling those of Plato. 

* Com. incert., Frag. 81 Ribbeck, and Pub. Syrus, 
Frag. 2 Ribbeck. 


We are indeed uplifted merely by meeting wise 
men ; and one can be helped by a great man even 
when he is silent. I could not easily tell you how it 
helps us, though I am certain of the fact that I have 
received help in that way. Phaedo " says : " Certain 
tiny animals do not leave any pain when they sting 
us ; so subtle is their power, so deceptive for purposes 
of harm. The bite is disclosed by a swelling, and 
even in the swelling there is no visible wound." 
That will also be your experience when deaUng with 
wise men : you will not discover how or when the 
benefit comes to you, but you will discover that you 
have received it. " What is the point of this remark ? " 
you ask. It is, that good precepts, often welcomed 
within you, will benefit you just as much as good 
examples. Pythagoras declares that our souls 
experience a change when we enter a temple and 
behold the images of the gods face to face, and await 
the utterances of an oracle. Moreover, who can 
deny that even the most inexperienced are effectively 
struck by the force of certain precepts ? For 
example, by such brief but weighty saws as : 
" Nothing in excess," " The greedy mind is satisfied 
by no gains," " You must expect to be treated by 
others as you yourself have treated them." ^ We 
receive a sort of shock when we hear such sayings ; 
no one ever thinks of doubting them or of asking : 
" Why ? " So strongly, indeed, does mere truth, 
unaccompanied by reason, attract us. If reverence 
reins in the soul and checks vice, why cannot counsel 
do the same ? Also, if rebuke gives one a sense of 
shame, why has not counsel the same power, even 
though it does use bare precepts ? The counsel which 
assists suggestion by reason — which adds the motive 



adiuvat ratione quod praecipit, quae adicit, quare 
quidque faciendum sit et quis facientem oboedien- 
temque praeceptis fructus exspectet. Si imperio 
proficitur, et admonitione ; atqui ^ proficitur imperio ; 
ergo et admonitione. 

45 In duas partes virtus dividitur, in contemplationem 
veri et actionem. Contemplationem institutio tradit, 
actionem admonitio. Virtutem et exercet et ostendit 
recta actio. Acturo autem si prodest qui suadet, et 
qui monet proderit. Ergo si recta actio virtuti 
necessaria est, rectas autem actiones admonitio 

46 demonstrat, et admonitio necessaria est. Duae res 
plurimum roboris animo dant, fides veri et fiducia : 
utramque ^ admonitio facit. Nam et creditur illi et, 
cum creditum est, magnos animus spiritus concipit 
ac fiducia impletur. Ergo admonitio non est super- 

M. Agrippa, vir ingentis animi, qui solus ex iis, 
quos civiUa bella claros potentesque fecerunt, felix 
in publicum fuit, dicere solebat multum se huic 
debere sententiae : " Nam concordia parvae res 
crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur." Hac se 

47 aibat et fratrem et amicum optimum factum. Si 
eiusmodi sententiae familiariter in animum receptae 
formant eum, cur non haec pars philosophiae, quae 
talibus sententiis constat, idem possit ? Pars virtutis 
disciplina constat, pars exercitatione ; et discas 
oportet et quod didicisti agendo confirmes. Quod si 
est, non tantum scita sapientiae prosunt, sed etiam 

^ atqui Erasmus ; atque B ; aeque A. 
* utramque Pincianus (from an old MS.) ; utraque BA. 

» i.e., belief. 
'' From Sallust, Jugurtlia, x. 6. 



for doing a given thing and the reward which awaits 
one who carries out and obeys such precepts — is 
more effective and settles deeper in the heart. If 
commands are helpful, so is advice. But one is 
helped by commands ; therefore one is helped also 
by advice. 

Virtue is divided into two parts — into contempla- 
tion of truth, and conduct. Training teaches 
contemplation, and admonition teaches conduct. 
And right conduct both practises and reveals virtue. 
But if, when a man is about to act, he is helped by 
advice, he is also helped by admonition. Therefore, 
if right conduct is necessary to virtue, and if, more- 
over, admonition makes clear right conduct, then 
admonition also is an indispensable thing. There are 
two strong supports to the soul — trust '^ in the truth 
and confidence ; both are the result of admonition. 
For men believe it, and when belief is established, 
the soul receives great inspiration and is filled with 
confidence . Therefore , admonition is not superfluous . 

Marcus Agrippa, a great-souled man, the only 
person among those whom the civil wars raised to 
fame and power who prospered in his statecraft, used 
to say that he was greatly indebted to the proverb 
"Harmony makes small things grow ; lack of harmony 
makes great things decay." '' He held that he him- 
self became the best of brothers and the best of 
friends by virtue of this saying. And if proverbs of 
such a kind, when welcomed intimately into the 
soul, can mould this very soul, why cannot the 
department of philosophy which consists of such 
proverbs possess equal influence ? Virtue depends 
partly upon training and partly upon practice ; you 
must learn first, and then strengthen your learning 
by action. If this be true, not only do the doctrines 



praecepta, quae adfectus nostros velut edicto coercent 
et ablegant. 

48 " Philosophia," inquit, " dividitur in haec, scientiam 
et habitum animi. Nam qui didicit et facienda ac 
vitanda percepit, nondum sapiens est, nisi in ea, 
quae didicit, animus eius transfiguratus est. Tertia 
ista pars praecipiendi ex utroque est, et ex decretis 
et ex habitu. Itaque supervacua est ad implendam 

49 virtutem, cui duo ilia suffieiunt." Isto ergo modo 
et consolatio supervacua est, nam haec quoque ex 
utroque est, et adhortatio et suasio et ipsa argumen- 
tatio. Nam et haec ab habitu animi compositi 
validique proficiscitur. Sed quamvis ista ex optimo 
habitu animi veniant, optimus animi habitus ex his 

50 est ; et facit ilia et ex illis ipse fit. Deinde istud, 
quod dicis, iam perfecti viri est ac summam consecuti 
felicitatis humanae. Ad haec autem tarde per- 
venitur ; interim etiam inperfecto sed proficienti 
demonstranda est in rebus agendis via. Hanc for- 
sitan etiam sine admonitione dabit sibi ipsa sapientia, 
quae iam eo perduxit animum, ut moveri nequeat 
nisi in rectum. Inbecillioribus quidem ingeniis 
necessarium est aliquem praeire ; hoc vitabis, hoc 

51 facies. Praeterea si expectat tempus, quo per se 
sciat quid optimum factu sit, interim errabit et 

" Cf. Ep. xciv. 12 exactum indicium de fugiendis 

* The last stage of knowledge — complete assent — accord- 
ing to the Stoic view, which went beyond the mere sensation- 
theory of Epicurus. 


of wisdom help us, but the precepts also, which check 
and banish our emotions by a sort of official decree. 
It is said : " Philosophy is divided into knowledge 
and state of mind. For one who has learned and 
understood what he should do and avoid," is not a 
wise man until his mind is metamorphosed into the 
shape of that which he has learned. This third 
department — that of precept— is compounded from 
both the others, from dogmas of philosophy and state 
of mind. Hence it is superfluous as far as the 
perfecting of virtue is concerned ; the other two 
parts are enough for the purpose." On that basis, 
therefore, even consolation would be superfluous, 
since this also is a combination of the other two, as 
likewise are exhortation, persuasion, and even proof ^ 
itself. For proof also originates from a well- 
ordered and firm mental attitude. But, although 
these things result from a sound state of mind, 
yet the sound state of mind also results from them ; 
it is both creative of them and resultant from them. 
Furthermore, that which you mention is the mark of 
an already perfect man, of one who has attained the 
height of human happiness. But the approach to 
these qualities is slow, and in the meantime, in 
practical matters, the path should be pointed out 
for the benefit of one who is still short of perfection, 
but is making progress. Wisdom by her own agency 
may perhaps show herself this path without the help 
of admonition ; for she has brought the soul to a stage 
where it can be impelled only in the right direction. 
Weaker characters, however, need someone to\ 
precede them, to say : " Avoid this," or " Do that.^ 
Moreover, if one awaits the time when one can know 
of oneself what the best line of action is, one will 
sometimes go astray and by going astray will be 



errando inpedietur, quo minus ad illud perveniat, 
quo possit se esse contentus. Regi ergo debet, dum 
incipit posse se regere. Pueri ad praescriptum 
discunt. Digiti illorum tenentur et aliena manu 
per litterarum simulacra ducuntur, deinde imitari 
iubentur proposita ^ et ad ilia reformare chiro- 
graphum. Sic animus noster dum eruditur ad prae- 

52 scriptum, iuvatur.^ Haec sunt, per quae probatur 
hanc philosophiae partem supervacuam non esse. 

Quaeritur deinde, an ad faciendum sapientem sola 
sufficiat. Huic quaestioni suum diem dabimus ; in- 
terim omissis argumentis nonne apparet opus esse 
nobis aliquo advocato, qui contra populi praecepta 

53 praecipiat ? Nulla ad aures nostras vox inpune 
perfertur ; nocent qui optant, nocent qui execrantur. 
Nam et horum inprecatio falsos nobis metus inserit 
et illorum amor male docet bene optando. Mittit 
enim nos ad longinqua bona et incerta et errantia, 

54 cum possimus felicitatem domo promere. Non licet, 
inquam, ire recta via. Trahunt in pravum parentes, 
trahunt servi. Nemo errat uni sibi, sed dementiam 
spargit in proximos accipitque invicem. Et ideo in 
singulis vitia populorum sunt, quia ilia populus dedit. 
Dum facit quisque peiorem, factus est ; didicit de- 
teriora, deinde ^ docuit, efFectaque est ingens ilia 

^ proposita later MSS. ; praeposita BA. 

* iuvatur later MSS. ; iuvat A ; vivat B. 

* deinde later MSS. ; dein BA. 

" In this whole discussion Seneca is a much sounder 
Stoic than Aristo and the opposition. The next letter 
{Ep. xcv.) develops still further the preceptive function of 
philosophy — through irpoKo-n-f) (progress) to fieTa^okri (con- 



hindered from arriving at the point where it is 
possible to be content with oneself. The soul 
should accordingly be guided at the very moment 
when it is becoming able to guide itself.* Boys 
study according to direction. Their fingers are held 
and guided by others so that they may follow the 
outlines of the letters ; next, they are ordered to 
imitate a copy and base thereon a style of penman- 
ship. Similarly, the mind is helped if it is taught 
according to direction. Such facts as these prove 
that this department of philosophy is not superfluous. 
The question next arises whether this part alone 
is sufficient to make men wise. The problem shall 
be treated at the proper time ; but at present, 
omitting all arguments, is it not clear that we need 
someone whom we may call upon as our preceptor in 
opposition to the precepts of men in general ? There 
is no word which reaches our ears without doing us 
harm ; we are injured both by good wishes and by 
curses. The angry prayers of our enemies instil false 
fears in us ; and the affection of our friends spoils us 
through their kindly wishes. For this affection sets 
us a-groping after goods that are far away, unsure, 
and wavering, when we really might open the store 
of happiness at home. We are not allowed, I 
maintain, to travel a straight road. Our parents and 
our slaves draw us into wrong. Nobody confines 
his mistakes to himself ; people sprinkle folly among 
their neighbours, and receive it from them in turn. 
For this reason, in an individual, you find the vices 
of nations, because the nation has given them to the 
individual. Each man, in corrupting others, corrupts 
himself ; he imbibes, and then imparts, badness ; — 
the result is a vast mass of wickedness, because the 



nequitia congesto in unum quod cuique pessimum 

55 Sit ergo aliquis custos et aurem subinde pervellat 
abigatque rumores et reclamet populis laudantibus. 
Erras enim, si existimas nobiscum vitia nasci ; super- 
venerunt, ingesta sunt. Itaque monitionibus crebris 

56 opiniones, quae nos circumsonant, repellantur. Nulli 
nos vitio natura conciliat ; ilia ^ integros ac liberos 
genuit. Nihil quo avaritiam nostram inritaret, posuit 
in aperto. Pedibus aurum argentumque subiecit 
calcandumque ac premendum dedit quidquid est 
propter quod calcamur ac premimur. Ilia vultus 
nostros erexit ad caelum et quidquid magnificum 
mirumque fecerat, videri a suspicientibus voluit. 
Ortus occasusque et properantis mundi volubilem 
cursum, interdiu terrena aperientem, nocte caelestia, 
tardos siderum incessus si conpares toti, citatissimos 
autem si cogites, quanta spatia numquam intermissa 
velocitate circumeant, defectus solis ac lunae invicem 
obstantium, alia deinceps digna miratu, sive per 
ordinem subeunt sive subitis causis mota prosiliunt, 
ut nocturnos ^ ignium tractus et sine ullo ictu sonitu- 
que fulgores caeli patescentis columnasque ac trabes 
et varia simulacra flammarum. Haec supra nos itura 

57 disposuit ; aurum quidem et argentum et propter ista 
numquam pacem agens ferrum, quasi male nobis 

1 ilia later MSwS. ; nulla BA. 
* nocturnos Buecheler ; noctumi BA. 

" This theme is carefully elaborated in Ep. vii., " On 
Crowds " : " There is no person who does not make some 
vice attractive to us, or stamp it upon us, or taint us un- 
consciously therewith " (§ 2). 

* These are fully discussed in Seneca's Naturales 
Qvuestiones, a work almost contemporary with the Letters. 


worst in every separate person is concentrated in one 

We should, therefore, have a guardian, as it were, 
to pluck us continually by the ear and dispel rumours 
and protest against popular enthusiasms. For you 
are mistaken if you suppose that our faults are 
inborn in us ; they have come from without, have 
been heaped upon us. Hence, by receiving frequent 
admonitions, we can reject the opinions which din 
about our ears. Nature does not ally us with any 
vice ; she produced us in health and freedom. She 
put before our eyes no object which might stir in us 
the itch of greed. She placed gold and silver beneath 
our feet, and bade those feet stamp down and crush 
everything that causes us to be stamped down and 
crushed. Nature elevated our gaze towards the 
sky and willed that we should look upward to behold 
her glorious and wonderful works. She gave us 
the rising and the setting sun, the whirling course 
of the on-rushing world which discloses the things 
of earth by day and the heavenly bodies by night, 
the movements of the stars, which are slow if you 
compare them with the universe, but most rapid 
if you reflect on the size of the orbits which they 
describe with unslackened speed ; she showed us 
the successive eclipses of sun and moon, and other 
phenomena, wonderful because they occur regularly 
or because, through sudden causes, they leap into 
view — such as nightly trails of fire, or flashes in the 
open heavens unaccompanied by stroke or sound of 
thunder, or columns and beams and the various pheno- 
mena of flames.^ She ordained that all these bodies 
should proceed above our heads ; but gold and silver, 
with the iron which, because of the gold and silver, 
never brings peace, she has hidden away, as if they 



committerentur, abscondit. Nos in lucem, propter 
quae pugnaremus, extulimus ; nos et causas peri- 
culorum nostrorum et instrumenta disiecto terrarum 
pondere eruimus ; nos fortunae mala nostra tradidi- 
mus nee erubescimus summa apud nos haberi, quae 

58 fuerant ima terrarum. Vis scire, quam falsus oculos 
tuos deceperit fulgor ? Nihil est istis, quamdiu mersa 
et involuta caeno suo iacent, foedius, nihil obscurius, 
quidni ? Quae per longissimorum cuniculorum tene- 
bras extrahuntur. Nihil est illis, dum fiunt et a 
faece sua separantur, informius. Denique ipsos 
opifices intuere, per quorum manus sterile terrae 
genus et infernum perpurgatur ; videbis quanta 

59 fuligine oblinantur. Atqui ista magis inquinant 
animos quam corpora, et in possessore eorum quam 
in artifice plus sordium est. 

Necessarium itaque admoneri est,^ habere aliquem 
advocatum bonae mentis et in tanto ^ fremitu 
tumultuque falsorum unam denique audire vocem. 
Quae erit ilia vox ? Ea scilicet, quae tibi tantis 
clamoribus ambitionis exsurdato salubria insusurret 

60 verba, quae dicat : non est quod invideas istis, quos 
magnos felicesque populus vocat, non est quod tibi 
compositae mentis habitum et sanitatem plausus 
excutiat, non est quod tibi tranquillitatis tuae fasti- 
dium faciat ille sub illis fascibus purpura cultus, non 

^ est Buecheler ; et BA. 
2 gt {ji tanto Schweighaeuser ; etantanto BA. 

<» Both literally and figuratively,- — the sheen of the metal 
and the glitter of the false idea. 

* i.e., the bundle of rods and axes, carried by the attend- 
ants of a Roman magistrate. 



were dangerous things to trust to our keeping. It 
is we ourselves that have dragged them into the hght 
of day to the end tha t we might fight over them ; it is we 
ourselves who, tearing away the superincumbent earth, 
have dug out the causes and tools of our own destruc- 
tion ; it is we ourselves who have attributed our own 
misdeeds to Fortune, and do not blush to regard 
as the loftiest objects those which once lay in the 
depths of earth. Do you wish to know how false is the 
gleam "■ that has deceived your eyes ? There is really 
nothing fouler or more involved in darkness than these 
things of earth, sunk and covered for so long a time 
in the mud where they belong. Of course they are 
foul ; they have been hauled out through a long and 
murky mine-shaft. There is nothing uglier than these 
metals during theprocessof refinement and separation 
from the ore. Furthermore, watch the very work- 
men who must handle and sift the barren grade of 
dirt, the sort which comes from the bottom ; see how 
soot-besmeared they are ! And yet the stuff they 
handle soils the soul more than the body, and there 
is more foulness in the owner than in the workman. 

It is therefore indispensable that we be admonished, 
that we have some advocate with upright mind, and, 
amid all the uproar and jangle of falsehood, hear one 
voice only. But what voice shall this be ? Surely 
a voice which, amid all the tumult of self-seeking, 
shall whisper wholesome words into the deafened 
ear, saying : " You need not be envious of those 
whom the people call great and fortunate ; applause 
need not disturb your composed attitude and your 
sanity of mind ; you need not become disgusted 
with your calm spirit because you see a great man, 
clothed in purple, protected by the well-known 
symbols of authority ; ^ you need not judge the 

VOL. Ill E 49 


est quod feliciorem eum iudices cui summovetur, 
quam te quern ^ lictor semita deicit. Si vis exercere 
tibi utile, nulli autem grave imperium, summove 

61 vitia, Multi inveniuntur qui ignem inferant urbibus, 
qui inexpugnabilia saeculis et per aliquot aetates 
tuta prosternant, qui aequum arcibus aggerem 
attollant et muros in miram altitudinem eductos 
arietibus ac machinis quassent. Multi sunt qui ante 
se agant agmina et tergis hostium ^ graves instent et 
ad mare magnum perfusi caede gentium veniant ; sed 
hi quoque, ut vincerent hostem, cupiditate victi sunt. 
Nemo illis venientibus restitit, sed nee ipsi ambitioni 
crudelitatique restiterant ; tunc, cum agere alios visi 

62 sunt, agebantur. Agebat infelicem Alexandrum 
furor aliena vastandi et ad ignota mittebat. An tu 
putas sanum, qui a Graeciae primum cladibus, in qua 
eruditus est, incipit ? Qui quod cuique optimum est, 
eripit, Lacedaemona servire iubet, Athenas tacere ? 
Non contentus tot civitatium strage, quas aut vicerat 
Philippus aut emerat, alias alio loco proicit et toto 
orbe arma circumfert, nee subsistit usquam lassa 
crudelitas immanium ferarum modo, quae plus quam 

63 exigit fames mordent. lam in unum regnum multa 

^ quern later MSS. ; om. BA. 
^ later MSS. omit et (BA) after hostium. 

• A name usually applied to the eastern end of the 

'' Especially Thebes in 335 b.c, which he sacked. Athens 
and Sparta were treated with more consideration. 


magistrate for whom the road is cleared to be any 
happier than yourself, whom his officer pushes from 
the road. If you would wield a command that is 
profitable to yourself, and injurious to nobody, 
clear your own faults out of the way. There are 
many who set fire to cities, who storm garrisons 
that have remained impregnable for generations 
and safe for numerous ages, who raise mounds as 
high as the walls they are besieging, who with 
battering-rams and engines shatter towers that have 
been reared to a wondrous height. There are many 
who can send their columns ahead and press de- 
structively upon the rear of the foe, who can reach 
the Great Sea " dripping with the blood of nations ; 
but even these men, before they could conquer 
their foe, were conquered by their own greed. No 
one withstood their attack ; but they themselves 
could not withstand desire for power and the impulse 
of cruelty ; at the time when they seemed to be 
hounding others, they were themselves being 
hounded. Alexander was hounded into misfortune 
and dispatched to unknown countries by a mad 
desire to lay waste other men's territory. Do you 
believe that the man was in his senses who could begin 
by devastating Greece, the land where he received 
his education ? One who snatched away the dearest 
guerdon of each nation, bidding Spartans be slaves, 
and Athenians hold their tongues ? Not content 
with the ruin of all the states which Philip had either 
conquered or bribed into bondage,^ he overthrew 
various commonwealths in various places and carried 
his weapons all over the world ; his cruelty was 
tired, but it never ceased — like a wild beast that 
tears to pieces more than its hunger demands. 
Already he has joined many kingdoms into one 



regna coniecit ; iam Graeci Persaeque eundem 
timent ; iam etiam a Dareo liberae nationes iugum 
accipiunt : it tamen ultra oceanum solemque, in- 
dignatur ab Herculis Liberique vestigiis victoriam 
flectere, ipsi naturae vim parat. Non ille ire vult, 
sed non potest stare, non aliter quam in praeceps 
deiecta pondera, quibus eundi finis est iacuisse. 

64 Ne Gnaeo quidem Pompeio externa bella ac 
domestica virtus aut ratio suadebat, sed insanus 
amor magnitudinus falsae. Modo in Hispaniam et 
Sertoriana arma, modo ad colligandos ^ piratas ac 

65 maria pacanda vadebat. Hae praetexebantur causae 
ad continuandam potentiam. Quid ilium in Africam, 
quid in septentrionem, quid in Mithridaten et 
Armeniam et omnis Asiae angulos traxit ? Infinita 
scilicet cupido crescendi, cum sibi uni parum magnus 
videretur. Quid C. Caesarem in sua fata pariter ac 
publica inmisit ? Gloria et ambitio et nullus supra 

66 ceteros eminendi modus. Unum ante se ferre 
non potuit, cum res publica supra se duos ferret. 
Quid, tu C. Marium semel consulem — unum enim 
consulatum accepit, ceteros rapuit — cum Teutonos 
Cimbrosque concideret, cum lugurtham per Afri- 
cae deserta sequeretur, tot pericula putas adpetisse 
virtutis instinctu ? Marius exercitus, Marium ambitio 

^ colligandos Madvig ; colligendos BA. 

" i.e., the Hyrcanians, and other tribes attacked during 
and after 330 b.c. 

* Heracles in his various forms hails all the way from 
Tyre to the Atlantic Ocean ; Dionysus from India through 
I^ydia, Thrace, and the Eastern Mediterranean to Greece. 

* 76 B.C. <« 67 B.C. 

* Beginning with the passage of the Manilian Law of 
66 B.C. 

f 107 B.C. (also 104, 103, 102, 101, 100, and 86). 


kingdom ; already Greeks and Persians fear the 
same lord ; already nations Darius had left free 
submit to the yoke : °' yet he passes beyond the 
Ocean and the Sun, deeming it shame that he should 
shift his course of victory from the paths which 
Hercules and Bacchus had trod ; ^ he threatens 
violence to Nature herself. He does not wish to go ; 
but he cannot stay ; he is like a weight that falls head- 
long, its course ending only when it hes motionless. 

It was not virtue or reason which persuaded 
Gnaeus Pompeius to take part in foreign and civil 
warfare ; it was his mad craving for unreal glory. 
Now he attacked Spain and the faction of Sertorius ; " 
now he fared forth to enchain the pirates and subdue 
the seas.** These were merely excuses and pretexts 
for extending his power. What drew him into 
Africa, into the North, against Mithridates, into 
Armenia and all the corners of Asia ? « Assuredly 
it was his boundless desire to grow bigger ; for only 
in his own eyes was he not great enough. And 
what impelled Gaius Caesar to the combined ruin of 
himself and of the state ? Renown, self-seeking, and 
the setting no limit to pre-eminence over all other 
men. He could not allow a single person to outrank 
him, although the state allowed two men to stand 
at its head. Do you think that Gaius Marius, who 
was once consul^ (he received this office on one 
occasion, and stole it on all the others) courted all 
his perils by the inspiration of virtue when he was 
slaughtering the Teutons and the Cimbri, and 
pursuing Jugurtha through the wilds of Africa ? « 
Marius commanded armies, ambition Marius. 

» 102 and 101 b.c. at Aquae Sextiae and Vercellae ; the 
Jugurthine war lasted from 109 to 106 b.c. 



67 Isti cum omnia concuterent, concutiebantur tur- 
binum more, qui rapta convolvunt, sed ipsi ante 
volvuntur et ob hoc maiore impetu incurrunt, quia 
nullum illis sui regimen est ideoque cum multis 
fuerunt male, pestiferam illam vim, qua plerisque 
nocuerunt, ipsi quoque sentiunt. Non est quod 
credas quemquam fieri aliena infelicitate felicem. 

68 Omnia ista exempla, quae oculis atque auribus nostris 
ingeruntur, retexenda sunt et plenum maUs sermoni- 
bus pectus exhauriendum. Inducenda in occupatum 
locum virtus, quae mendacia et contra verum pla- 
centia exstirpet, quae nos a populo, cui nimis credi- 
mus, separet ac sinceris opinionibus reddat. Hoc est 
enim sapientia, in naturam converti et eo restitui, 

69 unde publicus error expulerit. Magna pars sanitatis 
est hortatores insaniae reliquisse et ex isto coitu 
invicem noxio procul abisse. 

Hoc ut esse verum scias, aspice, quanto aliter 
unusquisque populo vivat, aliter sibi. Non est per 
se magistra innocentiae solitudo nee frugalitatem 
docent rura, sed ubi testis ac spectator abscessit, 
vitia subsidunt, quorum monstrari et conspici fructus 

70 est. Quis eam, quam nulli ostenderet, induit pur- 

puram ? Quis posuit secretam in auro dapem ? Quis 

sub alicuius arboris rusticae proiectus umbra luxu- 

" i.e., as Pompeius, Caesar, Marias. 


When such men as these ** were disturbing the 
world, they were themselves disturbed — like cyclones 
that whirl together what they have seized, but 
which are first whirled themselves and can for this 
reason rush on with all the greater force, having no 
control over themselves ; hence, after causing such 
destruction to others, they feel in their own body 
the ruinous force which has enabled them to cause 
havoc to many. You need never believe that a 
man can become happy through the unhappiness of 
another. We must unravel all such cases* as are 
forced before our eyes and crammed into our ears ; 
we must clear out our hearts, for they are full 
of evil talk. Virtue must be conducted into the 
place these have seized, — a kind of virtue which may 
root out falsehood and doctrines which contravene 
the truth, or may sunder us from the throng, in 
which we put too great trust, and may restore us 
to the possession of sound opinions. For this is 
wisdom — a return to Nature and a restoration to the 
condition from which man's errors have driven us. It 
is a great part of health to have forsaken the coun- 
sellors of madness and to have fled far from a 
companionship that is mutually baneful. 

That you may know the truth of my remark, see 
how different is each individual's life before the 
public from that of his inner self. A quiet life does 
not of itself give lessons in upright conduct; the 
countryside does not of itself teach plain living ; 
no, but when witnesses and onlookers are removed, 
faults which ripen in publicity and display sink into 
the background. Who puts on the purple robe for 
the sake of flaunting it in no man's eyes ? Who uses 
gold plate when he dines alone ? Who, as he flings 
himself down beneath the shadow of some rustic tree, 



riae suae pompam solus explicuit ? Nemo oculis suis 
lautus est, ne paucorum quidem aut familiarium, 
sed apparatum vitiorum suorum pro modo turbae 

71 spectantis expandit. Ita est : inritamentum est 
omnium, in quae insanimus, admirator et conscius. 
Ne concupiscamus efficies, si ne ostendamus efFeceris. 
Ambitio et luxuria et inpotentia scaenam desiderant : 
sanabis ista, si absconderis. 

72 Itaque si in medio urbium fremitu conlocati sumus, 
stet ad latus monitor et contra laudatores ingentium 
patrimoniorum laudet parvo divitem et usu opes 
metientem. Contra illos, qui gratiam ac potentiam 
attoUunt, otium ipse suspiciat traditum litteris et 

73 animum ab externis ad sua reversum. Ostendat ex 
constitutione vulgi beatos in illo invidioso fastigio suo 
trementes et adtonitos longeque aliam de se opi- 
nionem habentes quam ab aliis habetur. Nam quae 
aliis excelsa videntur, ipsis praerupta sunt. Itaque 
exanimantur et trepidant, quotiens despexerunt in 
illud magnitudinis suae praeceps. Cogitant enim 

74 varios casus et in sublimi maxime lubricos. Tunc 

adpetita formidant et quae illos graves aliis reddit, 

gravior ipsis felicitas incubat. Tunc laudant otium 

lene et sui iuris, odio est fulgor et fuga a rebus 

adhuc stantibus quaeritur. Tunc demum videas 

philosophantis metu ^ et aegrae fortunae sana con- 

^ metu Muretus ; metus BA. 


displays in solitude the splendour of his luxury ? No 
one makes himself elegant only for his own beholding, 
or even for the admiration of a few friends or relatives. 
Rather does he spread out his well-appointed vices 
in proportion to the size of the admiring crowd. It 
is so : claqueurs and witnesses are irritants of all 
our mad foibles. You can make us cease to crave, 
if you only make us cease to display. Ambition, 
luxury, and waywardness need a stage to act upon ; 
you will cure all those ills if you seek retirement. 

Therefore, if our dwelling is situated amid the 
din of a city, there should be an adviser standing 
near us. When men praise great incomes, he should 
praise the person who can be rich with a slender 
estate and measures his wealth by the use he makes 
of it. In the face of those who glorify influence and 
power, he should of his own volition recommend a 
leisure devoted to study, and a soul which has left 
the external and found itself. He should point 
out persons, happy in the popular estimation, who 
totter on their envied heights of power, who are 
dismayed and hold a far different opinion of them- 
selves from what others hold of them. That which 
others think elevated, is to them a sheer precipice. 
Hence they are frightened and in a flutter whenever 
they look down the abrupt steep of their greatness. 
For they reflect that there are various ways of falling 
and that the topmost point is the most slippery. 
Then they fear that for which they strove, and the 
good fortune which made them weighty in the eyes 
of others weighs more heavily upon themselves. 
Then they praise easy leisure and independence ; 
they hate the glamour and try to escape while their 
fortunes are still unimpaired. Then at last you may 
see them studying philosophy amid their fear, and 



silia. Nam quasi ista inter se contraria sint, bona 
fortuna et mens bona, ita melius in malis sapimus ; 
secunda rectum auferunt. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Petis a me, ut id, quod in diem suum dixeram 
debere difFerri, repraesentem et scribam tibi, an haec 
pars philosophiae, quam Graeci paraeneticen vocant, 
nos praeceptivam dicimus, satis sit ad consum- 
mandam ^ sapientiam. Scio te in bonam partem 
accepturum si negavero. Eo magis promitto et ver- 
bum publicum perire non patior : " postea noli 

2 rogare, quod inpetrare nolueris." Interdum enim 
enixe petimus id, quod recusaremus, si quis ofFerret. 
Haec sive levitas est sive vernilitas, punienda est 
annuendi ^ facilitate. Multa videri volumus velle, 
sed nolumus. Recitator historiam ingentem attulit 
minutissime scriptam, artissime plicatam, et magna 
parte perlecta " desinam," inquit, " si vultis.^ " 
Adclamatur " recita, recita " ab iis, qui ilium om- 

^ consummandam later MSS. ; consum{m)endam BA. 

^ annuendi Windhaus and Buecheler ; mutendi BA. 

' si vultis later MSS. ; si multis B ; simultis A. 

" Literally, to pay money on the spot or perform a task 
without delay. 

* i.e.y the department of " advice by precepts," discussed 
in the preceding letter from another angle. The Greek 
term is nearest to the Latin sub-division hortatio. 

' i.e., the pertness of a home-bred slave {verna). 



hunting sound advice when their fortunes go awry. 
For these two things are, as it were, at opposite 
poles — good fortune and good heart ; that is why 
we are wiser when in the midst of adversity. 
It is prosperity that takes away righteousness. 


You keep asking me to explain without postpone- 
ment "■ a topic which I once remarked should be put 
off until the proper time, and to inform you by letter 
whether this department of philosophy which the 
Greeks call paraenetic,^ and we Romans call the 
" preceptorial," is enough to give us perfect wisdom. 
Now I know that you will take it in good part if I 
refuse to do so. But I accept your request all the 
more willingly, and refuse to let the common saying 
lose its point : 

Don't ask for what you'll wish you hadn't got. 

For sometimes we seek with effort that which we 
should decline if offered voluntarily. Call that fickle- 
ness or call it pettishness," — we must punish the habit 
by ready comphance. There are many things that we 
would have men think that we wish, but that we really 
do not wish. A lecturer sometimes brings upon the 
platform a huge work of research, written in the 
tiniest hand and very closely folded ; after reading off 
a large portion, he says : " I shall stop, if you wish ; " 
and a shout arises : " Read on, read on ! " from the 
lips of those who are anxious for the speaker to hold 



mutescere illic cupiunt. Saepe aliud volumus, aliud 
optamus et verum ne dis quidem dicimus, sed di aut 

3 non exaudiunt aut miserentur. Ego me omissa 
misericordia vindicabo et tibi ingentem epistulam 
inpingam, quam tu si invitus leges, dicito : " ego 
mihi hoc contraxi " teque inter illos numera, quos 
uxor magno ducta ambitu torquet, inter illos, quos 
divitiae per summum adquisitae sudorem male 
habent, inter illos, quos honores nulla non arte, 
atque opera petiti discruciant, et ceteros malorum 
suorum compotes. 

4 Sed ut omisso principio rem ipsam adgrediar, 
" beata," inquiunt, "vita constat ex actionibus rectis; 
ad actiones rectas praecepta perducunt ; ergo ad 
beatam vitam praecepta sufficiunt." Non semper 
ad actiones rectas praecepta perducunt, sed cum 
obsequens ingenium est ; aliquando frustra admoven- 

5 tur, si animum opiniones obsident pravae. Deinde 
etiam si recte faciunt, nesciunt facere se recte. Non 
potest enim quisquam nisi ab initio formatus et tota 
ratione compositus omnes exequi numeros, ut sciat, 
quando oporteat et in quantum et cum quo et 
quemadmodum et quare. Non potest toto animo ho- 
nesta ^ conari, ne constanter quidem aut libenter, 
sed respiciet, sed haesitabit. 

6 "Si honesta," inquit, " actio ex praeceptis venit, 
ad beatam vitam praecepta abunde sunt ; atqui est ^ 

1 animo honesta Hense ; animo ad honesta later MSS. ; 
animoteonesta BA. 

* atqui est Pincianus ; atq^le BA. 



his peace then and there. We often want one 
thing and pray for another, not telling the truth even 
to the gods, while the gods either do not hearken, 
or else take pity on us. But I shall without pity 
avenge myself and shall load a huge letter upon 
your shoulders ; for your part, if you read it with 
reluctance, you may say : " I brought this burden 
upon myself," and may class yourself among those 
men whose too ambitious wives drive them frantic, or 
those whom riches harass, earned by extreme sweat 
of the brow, or those who are tortured with the 
titles which they have sought by every sort of 
device and toil, and all others who are responsible 
for their own misfortunes. 

But I must stop this preamble and approach the 
problem under consideration. Men say : " The 
happy life consists in upright conduct ; precepts 
guide one to upright conduct ; therefore precepts 
are sufficient for attaining the happy life." But they 
do not always guide us to upright conduct ; this 
occurs only when the will is receptive ; and some- 
times they are applied in vain, when wrong opinions 
obsess the soul. Furthermore, a man may act 
rightly without knowing that he is acting rightly. 
For nobody, except he be trained from the start and 
equipped with complete reason, can develop to 
perfect proportions, understanding when he should 
do certain things, and to what extent, and in whose 
company, and how, and why. Without such training 
a man cannot strive with all his heart after that 
which is honourable, or even with steadiness or glad- 
ness, but will ever be looking back and wavering. 

It is also said : "If honourable conduct results 
from precepts, then precepts are amply sufficient for 
the happy life ; but the first of these statements is 



illud, ergo et hoc." His respondebimus actiones 
honestas et praeceptis fieri, non tantum praeceptis. 

7 " Si aliae," inquit, " artes contentae sunt praeceptis, 
contenta erit et sapientia, nam et haec ars vitae est. 
Atqui gubernatorem facit ille, qui praecipit : sic 
move gubernaculum, sic vela summitte, sic secundo 
vento utere, sic adverse resiste, sic dubium com- 
munemque tibi vindica. Alios quoque artifices prae- 
cepta conformant ^ ; ergo in hoc idem poterunt 

8 artifice viveridi." Omnes istae artes circa instru- 
menta vitae occupatae sunt, non circa totam vitam. 
Itaque multa illas inhibent extrinsecus et inpediunt, 
spes, cupiditas, timor. At haec, quae artem vitae 
professa est, nulla re, quo minus se exerceat, vetari 
potest ; discutit enim inpedimenta et traicit ^ ob- 
stantia. Vis scire, quam dissimilis sit aliarum artium 
condicio et huius ? In illis excusatius est voluntate 
peccare quam casu, in hac maxima culpa est sponte 

9 delinquere. Quod dico, tale est. Grammaticus non 
erubescet soloecismo, si sciens fecit, erubescet, si 
nesciens ; medicus si deficere aegrum non intellegit, 
quantum ad artem, magis peccat quam si se intel- 
legere dissimulat. At in hac arte vivendi turpior 
volentium culpa est. 

Adice nunc, quod artes quoque pleraeque, immo 
ex omnibus liberalissimae habent decreta sua, non 

* conformant Hermes and Gertz ; confirmant BA. 
* traicit Bartsch ; tractat BA. 

" The argument here is similar to Ep. Ixxxviii. 20 hae 
. . . artes ad instrumenta vitae plurimum conferunt, tamen 
ad virtutem non pertinent, 

'' i.e., philosophy. 



true ; therefore the second is true also," We shall 
reply to these words that honourable conduct is, to 
be sure, brought about by precepts, but not by 
precepts alone. " Then," comes the reply, " if the 
other arts are content with precepts, wisdom will 
also be content therewith ; for wisdom itself is an 
art of living. And yet the pilot is made \jy precepts 
which tell him thus and so to turn the tiller, set his 
sails, make use of a fair wind, tack, make the best 
of shifting and variable breezes, — all in the proper 
manner. Other craftsmen also are drilled by 
precepts ; hence precepts will be able to accomplish 
the same result in the case of our craftsman in the 
art of living." Now all these arts are concerned 
with the tools of life, but not with life as a whole." 
Hence there is much to clog these arts from without 
and to complicate them — such as hope, greed, fear. 
But that art ^ which professes to teach the art of 
life cannot be forbidden by any circumstance from 
exercising its functions ; for it shakes off complica- 
tions and pierces through obstacles. Would you like 
to know how unlike its status is to the other arts ? 
In the case of the latter, it is more pardonable to err 
voluntarily rather than by accident ; but in the case 
of wisdom the worst fault is to commit sin wilfully. 
I mean something like this : A scholar will blush for 
shame, not if he makes a grammatical blunder inten- 
tionally, but if he makes it unintentionally ; if a 
physician does not recognize that his patient is 
failing, he is a much poorer practitioner than if he 
recognizes the fact and conceals his knowledge. But 
in this art of living a voluntary mistake is the more 

Furthermore, many arts, aye and the most liberal 
of them all, have their special doctrines, and not mere 



tantum praecepta, sicut medicina. Itaque alia est 
Hippocratis secta, alia Asclepiadis, alia Themisonis. 

10 Praeterea nulla ars contemplativa sine decretis suis 
est, quae Graeci vocant dogmata, nobis vel decreta 
licet appellare vel scita vel placita, quae et in geo- 
metria et in astronomia invenies. Philosophia autem 
et contemplativa est et activa ; spectat simul agitque. 
Erras enim, si tibi illam putas tantum terrestres 
operas ^ promittere ; altius spirat. Totum, inquit, 
mundum scrutor nee me intra contubernium mortale 
contineo suadere vobis ac dissuadere contenta. 
Magna me vocant supraque vos posita : 

11 Nam tibi de summa caeli ratione deumque 
Disserere incipiam et rerum primordia pandam ; 
Unde omnis natura creet res, auctet alatque, 
Quoque eadem rursus ^ natura perempta resolvat, 

ut ait Lucretius. Sequitur ergo ut, cum contem- 

12 plativa sit, habeat decreta sua. Quid ? Quod faci- 
enda quoque nemo rite obibit nisi is, cui ratio erit 
tradita, qua in quaque re omnes officiorum numeros 
exequi possit, quos non servabit, qui in rem prae- 
sentem^ praecepta acceperit, non in omnem.* In- 
becilla sunt per se et, ut ita dicam, sine radice, quae 
partibus dantur. Decreta sunt, quae muniant, quae 
securitatem nostram tranquillitatemque tueantur, 
quae totam vitam totamque rerum naturam simul 

^ operas later MSS. ; opera BA. 

* quove eadem rursum Lucr. 

' in rem praesentem Hermes ; in rem, BA. 

* omnem later MSS. ; omne BA. 

" Hippocrates belonged to the " Clinical " School ; 
Asclepiades and his pupil Themison to the " Methodical." 
See Index of Proper Names. 

* " Axioms " and " postulates." 

• i. 54 ff. 



precepts of advice — the medical profession, for 
example. There are the different schools of Hippo- 
crates, of Asclepiades, of Themison.'* And besides, 
no art that concerns itself with theories can exist 
without its own doctrines ; the Greeks call them 
dogmas, while we Romans may use the term 
" doctrines," or " tenets," or " adopted principles," ^ 
— such as you will find in geometry or astronomy. 
But philosophy is both theoretic and practical ; it 
contemplates and at the same time acts. You 
are indeed mistaken if you think that philosophy 
offers you nothing but worldly assistance ; her aspira- 
tions are loftier than that. She cries : " I investigate 
the whole universe, nor am I content, keeping myself 
within a mortal dwelling, to give you favourable 
or unfavourable advice. Great matters invite and 
such as are set far above you. In the words of 
Lucretius : " 

To thee shall I reveal the ways of heaven 

And of the gods, spreading before thine eyes 

The atoms, — whence all things are brought to birth, 

Increased, and fostered by creative power, 

And eke their end when Nature casts them off. 

Philosophy, therefore, being theoretic, must have 
her doctrines. And why ? Because no man can 
duly perform right actions except one who has been 
entrusted with reason, which will enable him, in all 
cases, to fulfil all the categories of duty. These 
categories he cannot observe unless he receives pre- 
cepts for every occasion, and not for the present 
alone. Precepts by themselves are weak and, so to 
speak, rootless if they be assigned to the parts and 
not to the whole. It is the doctrines which will 
strengthen and support us in peace and calm, which 
will include simultaneously the whole of life and the 
VOL. Ill F 65 


contineant. Hoc interest inter decreta philosophiae 
at praecepta, quod inter elementa et membra ; haec 
ex illis dependent, ilia et horum causae sunt et 

13 " Antiqua," inquit, " sapientia nihil aliud quam 
facienda ac vitanda praecepit, et tunc longe meUores 
erant viri. Postquam docti prodierunt, boni desunt. 
Simplex enim ilia et aperta virtus in obscuram et 
sollertem scientiam versa est docemurque disputare, 

14 non vivere," Fuit sine dubio, ut dicitis, vetus ilia 
sapientia cum maxima nascens rudis non minus quam 
ceterae artes, quarum in processu subtilitas crevit. 
Sed ne opus quidem adhuc erat remediis diligentibus. 
Nondum in tantum nequitia surrexerat nee tam late 
se sparserat. Poterant vitiis simplicibus obstare 
remedia simplicia ; nunc necesse est tanto operosiora 
esse munimenta, quanto vehementiora sunt, quibus 

15 petimur. Medicina quondam paucarum fuit scientia 
herbarum, quibus sisteretur fluens sanguis, vulnera 
coirent ; paulatim deinde in hanc pervenit tam multi- 
plicem varietatem. Nee est mirum tunc illam minus 
negotii habuisse firmis adhuc solidisque corporibus et 
facili cibo nee per artem voluptatemque corrupto, qui 
postquam coepit non ad tollendam, sed ad inritandam 
famem quaeri et inventae sunt mille conditurae, 
quibus aviditas excitaretur, quae desiderantibus ali- 

16 menta erant, onera sunt pienis. Inde pallor et 
nervorum vino madentium tremor et miserabilior ex 
cruditatibus quam ex fame macies. Inde incerti 

" Whether elementa and membra mean " letters and 
clauses " or " matter and forms of matter " is difficult to 

* i.e.t before the advent of any theoretical philosophy, 



universe in its completeness. There is the same 
difference between philosophical doctrines and pre- 
cepts as there is between elements and members * ; 
the latter depend upon the former, while the former 
are the source both of the latter and of all things. 

People say : " The old-style wisdom advised only 
what one should do and avoid ; ^ and yet the men of 
former days were better men by far. When learned 
men have appeared, good men have become rare. 
For that frank, simple virtue has changed into hidden 
and crafty knowledge ; we are taught how to debate, 
not how to Mve." Of course, as you say, the old- 
fashioned wisdom, especially in its beginnings, was 
crude ; but so were the other arts, in which dexterity 
developed with progress. Nor indeed in those days 
was there yet any need for carefully-planned cures. 
Wickedness had not yet reached such a high point, 
or scattered itself so broadcast. Plain vices could be 
treated by plain cures ; now, however, we need 
defences erected with all the greater care, because 
of the stronger powers by which we are attacked. 
Medicine once consisted of the knowledge of a few 
simples, to stop the flow of blood, or to heal wounds ; 
then by degrees it reached its present stage of com- 
plicated variety. No wonder that in early days medi- 
cine had less to do ! Men's bodies were still sound 
and strong ; their food was light and not spoiled by 
art and luxury, whereas when they began to seek 
dishes not for the sake of removing, but of rousing, 
the appetite, and devised countless sauces to whet 
their gluttony, — then what before was nourishment 
to a hungry man became a burden to the full stomach. 
Thence come paleness, and a trembling of wine- 
sodden muscles, and a repulsive thinness, due rather 
to indigestion than to hunger. Thence weak tottering 



labantium ^ pedes et semper qualis in ipsa ebrietate 
titubatio. Inde in totam cutem umor admissus dis- 
tentusque venter, dum male adsuescit plus capere 
quam poterat. Inde sufFusio luridae bilis et decolor 
vultus tabesque in se putrescentium et retorridi digiti 
articulis obrigescentibus nervorumque sine sensu 
iacentium torpor aut palpitatio ^ sine intermissione 

17 vibrantium. Quid capitis vertigines dicam ? Quid 
oculorum auriumque tormenta et cerebri exaestuan- 
tis verminationes et omnia, per quae exoneramur, 
internis ulceribus adfecta ? Innumerabilia praeterea 
febrium genera, aliarum impetu saevientium, aliarum 
tenui peste repentium, aliarum cum horrore et multa 

18 membrorum quassatione venientium ? Quid alios 
referam innumerabiles morbos, supplicia luxuriae ? 

Immunes erant ab istis malis, qui nondum se 
deliciis solverant, qui sibi imperabant, sibi mini- 
strabant. Corpora opere ac vero labore durabant aut 
cursu defatigati aut venatu aut tellure ^ versanda.* 
Excipiebat illos cibus, qui nisi esurientibus placere 
non posset. Itaque nihil opus erat tam magna 
medicorum supellectile nee tot ferramentis atque 
pyxidibus. Simplex erat ex causa simplici valitudo ; 

19 multos morbos multa fericula fecerunt. Vide, quan- 
tum rerum per unam gulam transiturarum permisceat 
luxuria, terrarum marisque vastatrix. Necesse est 
itaque inter se tam diversa dissideant et hausta male ^ 

^ labantium later MvSS. ; labentium BA. 
2 Muretus removed corporum after palpitatio : Buecheler 
suggested praecordiorum, and Windhaus cordum. 
8 tellure later MSS. ; tollere BA. 
* versanda Windhaus ; versantia BA. 
" Gertz added another male to the text. 

" verminatio, defined by Festus as cum corpus quodam 
minuto motu quasi a vermibus scindatur. 



steps, and a reeling gait just like that of drunkenness. 
Thence dropsy, spreading under the entire skin, and 
the belly growing to a paunch through an ill habit 
of taking more than it can hold. Thence yellow 
jaundice, discoloured countenances, and bodies that 
rot inwardly, and fingers that grow knotty when 
the joints stiffen, and muscles that are numbed and 
without power of feeling, and palpitation of the heart 
with its ceaseless pounding. Why need I mention 
dizziness ? Or speak of pain in the eye and in the 
ear, itching and aching <* in the fevered brain, and 
internal ulcers throughout the digestive system ? 
Besides these, there are countless kinds of fever, some 
acute in their malignity, others creeping upon us 
with subtle damage, and still others which approach 
us with chills and severe ague. Why should I 
mention the other innumerable diseases, the tor- 
tures that result from high hving ? 

Men used to be free from such ills, because they 
had not yet slackened their strength by indulgence, 
because they had control over themselves, and 
supplied their own needs. ^ They toughened their 
bodies by work and real toil, tiring themselves out 
by running or hunting or tilling the earth. They 
were refreshed by food in which only a hungry man 
could take pleasure. Hence, there was no need for 
all our mighty medical paraphernalia, for so many 
instruments and pill-boxes. For plain reasons they 
enjoyed plain health ; it took elaborate courses to pro- 
duce elaborate diseases. Mark the number of things 
— all to pass down a single throat — that luxury mixes 
together, after ravaging land and sea. So many 
different dishes must surely disagree ; they are 

* For this sort of Golden Age reminiscence see Ep. xc. 5 ff. 
(vol. ii. p. 397) and note. 



male digerantur aliis alio nitentibus. Nee mirumj 
quod inconstans variusque ex discordi cibo morbus 
est et* ilia ex contrariis naturae partibus in eundem 
compulsa redundant. Inde tam multo^ aegrotamus 

20 genere quam vivimus. Maximus ille medicorum et 
huius scientiae conditor feminis nee eapillos defluere 
dixit nee pedes laborare ; atqui et capillis desti- 
tuuntur et pedibus aegrae sunt. Non mutata femi- 
narum natura, sed victa est ; nam cum virorum 
licentiam aequaverint, corporum quoque virilium 

21 incommoda aequarunt, Non minus pervigilant, non 
minus potant, et oleo et mero viros provocant ; aeque 
invitis ingesta visceribus per os reddunt et vinum 
omne vomitu remetiuntur ; aeque nivem rodunt, 
solacium stomachi aestuantis. Libidine vero ne mari- 
bus quidem cedunt, pati natae, di illas deaeque male 
perdant ! Adeo perversum commentae genus in- 
pudicitiae viros ineunt. Quid ergo mirandum est 
maximum medicorum ac naturae peritissimum in 
mendacio prendi, cum tot feminae podagricae 
calvaeque sint? Benejficium sexus sui vitiis perdi- 
derunt et, quia feminam exuerant, damnatae sunt 
morbis virilibus. 

22 Antiqui medici nesciebant dare cibum saepius et 

^ multo Haupt ; nullo BA. 

" Hippocrates. 



bolted with difficulty and are digested with difficulty, 
each jostling against the other. And no wonder, 
for diseases that result from ill-assorted food are 
variable and manifold ; there must be an over- 
flow when so many unnatural combinations are 
jumbled together. Hence there are as many classes 
of illness as there are classes of living men. The 
illustrious founder of the guild and profession of 
medicine " remarked that women never lost their 
hair or suffered from pain in the feet ; and yet 
nowadays they run short of hair and are afflicted 
with gout. This does not mean that woman's 
physique has changed, but that it has been conquered; 
in rivalling male indulgences, they have also rivalled 
the ills to which men are heirs. They keep just as 
late hours, and drink just as much liquor ; they 
challenge men in wrestling and carousing ; they are 
no less given to vomiting from distended stomachs 
and to thus discharging all their wine again ; 
nor are they behind the men in gnawing ice, as a 
relief to their fevered digestions. And they even 
match the men in their passions, although they were 
created to feel love passively (may the gods and 
goddesses confound them !). They devise the most 
impossible varieties of unchastity, and in the company 
of men they play the part of men. What wonder, 
then, that we can trip up the statement of the 
greatest and most skilled physician, when so many 
women are gouty and bald ! Because of their vices, 
women have ceased to deserve the privileges of their 
sex ; they have put off their womanly nature and 
are therefore condemned to suffer the diseases of 

Physicians of old time knew nothing about pre- 
scribing frequent nourishment and propping the 



vino fulcire venas cadentes, nesciebant sanguinem 
mittere et diutinam aegrotationem balneo sudoribus- 
que laxare, nesciebant crurum vinculo brachiorum- 
que latentem vim et in medio sedentem ad 
extrema revocare. Non erat necesse circumspicere 
multa auxiliorum genera, cum essent periculorum 

23 paucissima. Nunc vero quam longe processerunt 
mala valitudinis ! Has usuras voluptatium pendimus 
ultra modum fasque concupitarum. Innumerabiles 
esse morbos non miraberis : cocos numera. Cessat 
omne studium et liberalia professi sine ulla frequentia 
desertis angulis praesident. In rhetorum ac philoso- 
phorum scholis solitudo est ; at quam celebres 
culinae sunt, quanta circa nepotum focos iuventus 

24 premitur ! Transeo puerorum infelicium greges, quos 
post transacta convivia aliae cubiculi contumeliae 
exspectant. Transeo agmina exoletorum per nationes 
coloresque discripta, ut eadem omnibus levitas sit, 
eadem primae mensura lanuginis, eadem species 
capillorum, ne quis, cui rectior est coma, crispulis 
misceatur. Transeo pistorum turbam, transeo minis- 
tratorum, per quos signo dato ad inferendam cenam 
discurritur. Di boni, quantum hominum unus venter 
exercet ! Quid ? Tu illos boletos, voluptarium vene- 
num, nihil occulti operis iudicas facere, etiam si 

25 praesentanei non fuerunt ? Quid ? Tu illam aesti- 
vam nivem non putas callum iocineribus obducere ? 

" Mushrooms, as in the case of the Emperor Claudius, 
were a frequent aid to secret murder. 



feeble pulse with wine ; they did not understand the 
practice of blood-letting and of easing chronic com- 
plaints with sweat-baths ; they did not understand 
how, by bandaging ankles and arms, to recall to the 
outward parts the hidden strength which had taken 
refuge in the centre. They were not compelled to 
seek many varieties of rehef, because the varieties 
of suffering were very few in number. Nowadays, 
however, to what a stage have the evils of ill-health 
advanced ! This is the interest which we pay on 
pleasures which we have coveted beyond what is 
reasonable and right. You need not wonder that 
diseases are beyond counting : count the cooks ! 
All intellectual interests are in abeyance ; those who 
follow culture lecture to empty rooms, in out-of-the- 
way places. The halls of the professor and the 
philosopher are deserted ; but what a crowd there 
is in the cafes ! How many young fellows besiege 
the kitchens of their gluttonous friends ! I shall 
not mention the troops of luckless boys who must 
put up with other shameful treatment after the 
banquet is over. I shall not mention the troops of 
catamites, rated according to nation and colour, who 
must all have the same smooth skin, and the same 
amount of youthful down on their cheeks, and the 
same way of dressing their hair, so that no boy with 
straight locks may get among the curly-heads. Nor 
shall I mention the medley of bakers, and the 
numbers of waiters who at a given signal scurry to 
carry in the courses. Ye gods ! How many men 
are kept busy to humour a single belly ! What ? 
Do you imagine that those mushrooms, the epicure's 
poison, work no evil results in secret,** even though 
they have had no immediate effect ? What ? Do 
you suppose that your summer snow does not harden 



Quid ? Ilia ostrea, inertissimam carnem caeno sagina- 
tam, nihil existimas limosae gravitatis inferre ? 
Quid ? Illud sociorum garum, pretiosam malorum 
piscium saniem, non credis urere salsa tabe praecordia ? 
Quid ? Ilia purulenta et quae tantum non ex ipso 
igne in os transferuntur, iudicas sine noxa in ipsis 
visceribus extingui ? Quam foedi itaque pestilentes- 
que ructus sunt, quantum fastidium sui exhalan- 
tibus crapulam veterem ! , Scias putrescere sumpta, 
non concoqui. 

26 Memini fuisse quondam in sermone nobilem 
patinam, in quam quicquid apud lautos solet diem 
ducere, properans in damnum suum popina con- 
gesserat ; veneriae spondylique et ostrea eatenus 
circumcisa, qua eduntur, intervenientibus distingue- 
bantur echinis. Totam dissecti structique ^ sine ullis 

27 ossibus mulli constraverant. Piget esse iam singula ; 
coguntur in unum sapores. In cena fit, quod fieri 
debebat^ in ventre. Expecto iam, ut manducata 
ponantur. Quantulo autem hoc minus est, testas 
excerpere atque ossa et dentium opera cocum fungi ? 

" Gravest luxuriari per singula ; omnia semel et 
in eundem saporem versa ponantur. Quare ego ad 
unam rem manum porrigam ? Plura veniant simul, 

^ dissecti structique Buecheler ; destructique BA. 
* dehehat Gertz ; debet saturo BA. 

" The finest variety of garum was made from Spanish 



the tissue of the liver ? What ? Do you suppose 
that those oysters, a sluggish food fattened on slime, 
do not weigh one down with mud-begotten heaviness ? 
What ? Do you not think that the so-called " Sauce 
from the Provinces," <* the costly extract of poisonous 
fish, burns up the stomach with its salted putrefaction ? 
What ? Do you judge that the corrupted dishes 
which a man swallows almost burning from the 
kitchen fire, are quenched in the digestive system 
without doing harm ? How repulsive, then, and 
how unhealthy are their belchings, and how disgusted 
men are with themselves when they breathe forth 
the fumes of yesterday's debauch ! You may be 
sure that their food is not being digested, but is 

I remember once hearing gossip about a notorious 
dish into which everything over which epicures love 
to dally had been heaped together by a cookshop 
that was fast rushing into bankruptcy ; there were 
two kinds of mussels, and oysters trimmed round at 
the line where they are edible, set off at intervals 
by sea-urchins ; the whole was flanked by mullets 
cut up and served without the bones. In these 
days we are ashamed of separate foods ; people mix 
many flavours into one. The dinner table does work 
which the stomach ought to do. I look forward 
next to food being served masticated ! And how 
little we are from it already when we pick out shells 
and bones and the cook performs the office of the 
teeth ! 

They say : " It is too much trouble to take our 
luxuries one by one ; let us have everything served 
at the same time and blended into the same flavour. 
Why should I help myself to a single dish ? Let us 
have many coming to the table at once ; the dainties of 



multorum ferculorum omamenta coeant et cohaere- 

28 ant. Sciant protinus hi, qui iactationem ex istis peti 
et gloriam aiebant, non ostendi ista, sed conscientiae 
dari, Pariter sint, quae disponi solent, uno iure 
perfusa. Nihil intersit : ostrea, echini, spondyli, 
mulH perturbati concoctique ponantur." Non esset 

29 confusior vomentium cibus. Quomodo ista perplexa 
sunt, sic ex istis non singulares morbi nascuntur, sed 
inexphcabiles, diversi, multiformes, adversus quos et 
medicina armare se coepit multis generibus, multis 
observationibus . 

Idem tibi de philosophia dico. Fuit aHquando sim- 
phcior inter minora peccantes et levi quoque cura 
remediabiles ; adversus tantam morum eversionem 
omnia conanda sunt. Et utinam sic denique lues 

30 ista vindicetur ! Non privatim solum, sed publice 
furimus. Homicidia compescimus et singulas caedes ; 
quid bella et occisarum gentium gloriosum scelus ? 
Non avaritia, non crudeHtas modum novit. Et ista 
quamdiu furtim et a singulis fiunt, minus noxia 
minusque monstruosa sunt ; ex senatus consultis 
plebisque scitis saeva exercentur et publice iubentur 

31 vetata privatim. Quae clam commissa capite luerent, 

turn quia paludati fecere, laudamus. Non pudet ^ 

homines, mitissimum genus, gaudere sanguine altemo 

^ pudet later MSS. ; putet BA. 


various courses should be combined and confounded. 
Those who used to declare that this was done for 
display and notoriety should understand that it is not 
done for show, but that it is an oblation to our sense 
of duty ! Let us have at one time, drenched in the 
same sauce, the dishes that are usually served separ- 
ately. Let there be no difference : let oysters, 
sea-urchins, shell -fish, and mullets be mixed to- 
gether and cooked in the same dish." No vomited 
food could be jumbled up more helter-skelter. And 
as the food itself is complicated, so the resulting 
diseases are complex, unaccountable, manifold, 
variegated ; medicine has begun to campaign against 
them in many ways and by many rules of treatment. 
Now I declare to you that the same statement 
applies to philosophy. It was once more simple be- 
cause men's sins were on a smaller scale, and could be 
cured with but slight trouble ; in the face, however, 
of all this moral topsy-turvy men must leave no 
remedy untried. And would that this pest might so 
at last be overcome ! We are mad, not only individu- 
ally, but nationally. We check manslaughter and 
isolated murders ; but what of war and the much- 
vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples ? 
There are no limits to our greed, none to our cruelty. 
And as long as such crimes are committed by stealth 
and by individuals, they are less harmful and less 
portentous ; but cruelties are practised in accordance 
with acts of senate and popular assembly, and the 
pubhc is bidden to do that which is forbidden to the 
individual. Deeds that would be punished by loss 
of life when committed in secret, are praised by us 
because uniformed generals have carried them out. 
Man, naturally the gentlest class of being, is not 
ashamed to revel in the blood of others, to wage 



et bella gerere gerendaque liberis tradere, cum inter 

32 se etiam mutis ac feris pax sit. Adversus tarn poten- 
tem explicitumque late furorem operosior philo- 
sophia facta est et tantum sibi virium sumpsit, 
quantum iis, adversus quae parabatur, accesserat. 

Expeditum erat obiurgare indulgentes mero et 
petentes delicatiorem cibum ; non erat animus ad 
frugalitatem* magna vi reducendus, a qua pauUum 
discesserat : 

33 Nunc manibus rapidis opus est, nunc arte magistra. 
Voluptas ex omni quaeritur. Nullum intra se manet 
vitium ; in avaritiam luxuria praeceps est. Honesti 
oblivio invasit. Nihil turpest, cuius placet pretium. 
Homo, sacra res homini, iam per lusum ac iocum 
occiditur et quem erudiri ad inferenda accipiendaque 
vulnera nefas erat, is iam nudus inermisque pro- 
ducitur satisque spectaculi ex homine mors est. 

34 In hac ergo morum perversitate desideratur solito 
vehementius aliquid, quod mala inveterata discutiat ; 
decretis agendum est, ut revellatur penitus falsorum 
recepta persuasio. His si adiunxerimus praecepta, 
consolationes, adhortationes, poterunt valere ; per 

35 se inefficaces sunt. Si volumus habere obligatos et 
malis, quibus iam tenentur, avellere, discant, quid 
malum, quid bonum sit. Sciant omnia praeter virtu- 

" Vergil, Aen. viii. 41.2. 


war, and to entrust the waging of war to his sons, 
when even dumb beasts and wild beasts keep the 
peace with one another. Against this overmastering 
and widespread madness philosophy has become a 
matter of greater effort, and has taken on strength 
in proportion to the strength which is gained by the 
opposition forces. 

It used to be easy to scold men who were slaves 
to drink and who sought out more luxurious food ; 
it did not require a mighty effort to bring the spirit 
back to the simplicity from which it had departed 
only slightly. But now 

One needs the rapid hand, the master-craft." 

Men seek pleasure from every source. No vice 
remains within its limits ; luxury is precipitated into 
greed. We are overwhelmed with forgetfulness of 
that which is honourable. Nothing that has an 
attractive value, is base. Man, an object of reverence 
in the eyes of man, is now slaughtered for jest and 
sport ; and those whom it used to be unholy to 
train for the purpose of inflicting and enduring 
wounds, are thrust forth exposed and defenceless ; 
and it is a satisfying spectacle to see a man made 
a corpse. 

Amid this upset condition of morals, something 
stronger than usual is needed, — something which will 
shake off these chronic ills ; in order to root out a 
deep-seated belief in wrong ideas, conduct must be 
regulated by doctrines. It is only when we add pre- 
cepts, consolation, and encouragement to these, that 
they can prevail ; by themselves they are ineffective. 
If we would hold men firmly bound and tear them 
away from the ills which clutch them fast, they must 
learn what is evil and what is good. They must know 



tern mutare nomen, modo mala fieri, modo bona. 
Quemadmodum primum militiae vinculum est religio 
et signorum amor et deserendi nefas, tunc deinde 
facile cetera exiguntur mandanturque iusiurandum 
adactis, ita in iis, quos velis ad beatam vitam per- 
ducere : prima fundamenta iacienda sunt et insinu- 
anda virtus. Huius quadam superstitione teneantur ; 
hanc ament ; cum hac vivere velint, sine hac nolint. 

36 " Quid ergo ? Non quidam sine institutione subtili 
evaserunt probi magnosque profectus adsecuti sunt, 
dum nudis tantum praeceptis obsecuntur ? " Fateor, 
sed felix illis ingenium fuit et salutaria in transitu 
rapuit. Nam ut di inmortales nullam didicere virtu- 
tem cum omni editi et pars naturae eorum est bonos 
esse, ita quidam ex hominibus egregiam sortiti 
indolem in ea, quae tradi solent, perveniunt sine 
longo magisterio et honesta complexi sunt, cum 
primum audiere ; unde ista tam rapacia virtutis 
ingenia vel ex se fertilia. Illis autem ^ hebetibus et 
optusis aut mala consuetudine obsessis diu robigo 

37 animorum efFricanda est. Ceterum, ut illos in bonum 
pronos citius educit ad summa, et hos inbecilliores 
adiuvabit malisque opinionibus extrahet, qui illis 
philosophiae placita tradiderit ; quae quam sint 

^ illis autem cod. Harl. ; et illis aut BA. 

" Cf. Ep. xxxvii. 2 uri, vinciri, ferroque necari and note. 
* i.e., not reinforced by general dogmas. 



that everything except virtue changes its name and 
becomes now good and now bad. Just as the soldier's 
primary bond of union is his oath of allegiance and 
his love for the flag, and a horror of desertion, and 
just as, after this stage, other duties can easily be 
demanded of him, and trusts given to him when once 
the oath * has been administered ; so it is with those 
whom you would bring to the happy life : the first 
foundations must be laid, and virtue worked into 
these men. They must be held by a sort of super- 
stitious worship of virtue ; let them love her ; let 
them desire to live with her, and refuse to live without 

" But what, then," people say, " have not certain 
persons won their way to excellence without com- 
plicated training ? Have they not made great 
progress by obeying bare precepts alone ^ ? " Very 
true ; but their temperaments were propitious, 
and they snatched salvation as it were by the way. 
For just as the immortal gods did not learn virtue — 
having been born with virtue complete, and contain- 
ing in their nature the essence of goodness — even 
so certain men are fitted with unusual qualities and 
reach without a long apprenticeship that which is 
ordinarily a matter of teaching, welcoming honourable 
things as soon as they hear them. Hence come the 
choice minds which seize quickly upon virtue, or else 
produce it from within themselves. But your dull, 
sluggish fellow, who is hampered by his evil habits, 
must have this soul-rust incessantly rubbed off. Now, 
as the former sort, who are inclined towards the good, 
can be raised to the heights more quickly : so the 
weaker spirits will be assisted and freed from their 
evil opinions if we entrust to them the accepted prin- 
ciples of philosophy ; and you may understand how 

VOL. Ill G 81 


necessaria, sic licet ^ videas. Quaedam insident 
nobis, quae nos ad alia pigros, ad alia temerarios 
faciunt. Nee haec audacia reprimi potest nee ilia 
inertia suscitari, nisi causae eorum eximuntur, falsa 
admiratio et falsa formido. Haec nos quamdiu possi- 
dent, dicas licet : " Hoc patri praestare debes, hoc 
liberis, hoc amicis, hoc hospitibus ; " temptantem 
avaritia retinebit. Sciet pro patria pugnandum esse, 
dissuadebit timor ; sciet pro amicis desudandum 
esse ad extremum usque sudorem,^ sed deliciae veta- 
bunt ; sciet in uxore gravissimum esse genus iniuriae 
paelicem, sed ilium libido in contraria inpinget.^ 

38 Nihil ergo proderit dare praecepta, nisi prius 
amoveris obstatura praeceptis, non magis quam 
proderit arma in conspectu posuisse propiusque ad- 
movisse, nisi usurae manus expediuntur. Ut ad 
praecepta, quae damns, possit animus ire, solvendus 

39 est. Putemus aliquem facere, quod oportet ; non 
faciet adsidue, non faciet aequahter : nesciet enim, 
quare faciat. Aliqua vel casu vel exercitatione exi- 
bunt recta, sed non erit in manu regula, ad quam 
exigantur, cui credat recta esse, quae fecit. Non 
promittet se talem in perpetuum, qui bonus casu * 

40 est. Deinde praestabunt tibi fortasse praecepta ut 

^ aic licet Haase ; scilicet BA. 

' We retain risque sudorem, the reading of A, in spite of 
the objections of Gruter and others. 
' impinget Erasmus ; inpingit BA. 
* casu later MSS. ; casus BA. 



essential these principles are in the following way. 
Certain things sink into us, rendering us sluggish in 
some ways, and hasty in others. These two qualities, 
the one of recklessness and the other of sloth, cannot 
be respectively checked or roused unless we remove 
their causes, which are mistaken admiration and 
mistaken fear. As long as we are obsessed by such 
feelings, you may say to us : " You owe this duty to 
your father, this to your children, this to your friends, 
this to your guests " ; but greed will always hold us 
back, no matter how we try. A man may know 
that he should fight for his country, but fear will 
dissuade him. A man may know that he should 
sweat forth his last drop of energy on behalf of his 
friends, but luxury will forbid. A man may know 
that keeping a mistress is the worst kind of insult 
to his wife, but lust -will drive him in the opposite 
direction. It will therefore be of no avail to give 
precepts unless you first remove the conditions that 
are likely to stand in the way of precepts ; it will do 
no more good than to place weapons by your side 
and bring yourself near the foe without having your 
hands free to use those weapons. The soul, in order 
to deal with the precepts which we offer, must first 
be set free. Suppose that a man is acting as he 
should ; he cannot keep it up continuously or 
consistently, since he will not know the reason for 
so acting. Some of his conduct will result rightly 
because of luck or practice ; but there will be in his 
hand no rule by which he may regulate his acts, 
and which he may trust to tell him whether that 
which he has done is right. One who is good through 
mere chance will not give promise of retaining such 
a character for ever. Furthermore, precepts will 
perhaps help you to do what should be done ; but 



quod oportet faciat, non praestabunt ut quemadmo- 
dum oportet ; si hoc non praestant, ad virtutem non 
perducunt. Faciet quod oportet monitus, concedo ; 
sed id parum est, quoniam quidem non in facto laus 

41 est, sed in eo, quemadmodum fiat. Quid est cena 
sumptuosa flagitiosius et equestrem censum con- 
sumente ? Quid tarn dignum censoria nota, si quis, 
ut isti ganeones loquuntur, sibi hoc et genio suo 
praestet ? Et deciens ^ tamen sestertio aditiales 
cenae frugalissimis viris constiterunt. Eadem res, 
si gulae datur, turpis est ; si honori, reprensionem 
effugit. Non enim luxuria, sed inpensa sollemnis est. 

42 Mullum ingentis formae — quare autem non pondus 
adicio et aliquorum gulam inrito ? quattuor pondo 
et sehbram fuisse aiebant — Tiberius Caesar missum 
sibi cum in macellum deferri et veniri iussisset : 
" amici," inquit, " omnia me fallunt, nisi istum 
mullum aut Apicius emerit aut P. Octavius." Ultra 
spem illi coniectura processit : liciti sunt, vicit 
Octavius et ingentem consecutus est inter sues 
gloriam, cum quinque sestertiis emisset piscem, quem 
Caesar vendiderat, ne Apicius quidem emerat. 
Numerare tantum Octavio fuit turpe, non illi,^ qui 
emerat, ut Tiberio mitteret, quamquam ilium quo- 
que reprenderim ; admiratus est rem, qua putavit 
Caesar em dignum. 

^ deciens Hermes ; docens BA. 
^ non illi Pincianus ; nam ille BA. 

" The nota was the mark of disgrace which the censor 
registered when he struck a man's name off the list of 
senators or knights. 

* The genius was properly a man's alter ego or " better 
self " : every man had his genius. For the colloquial 
use compare the " indulge genio " of the Roman poets. 

• See Index of Proper Names. 



they will not help you to do it in the proper way ; 
and if they do not help you to this end, they do not 
conduct you to virtue. I grant you that, if warned, 
a man will do what he should ; but that is not enough, 
since the credit lies, not in the actual deed, but in 
the way it is done. What is more shameful than a 
costly meal which eats away the income even of a 
knight ? Or what so worthy of the censor's con- 
demnation "• as to be always indulging oneself and 
one's " inner man," * if I may speak as the gluttons 
do ? And yet often has an inaugural dinner cost 
the most careful man a cool million ! The very sum 
that is called disgraceful if spent on the appetite, 
is beyond reproach if spent for official purposes ! 
For it is not luxury but an expenditure sanctioned 
by custom. 

A mullet of monstrous size was presented to the 
Emperor Tiberius. They say it weighed four and 
one half pounds (and why should I not tickle the 
palates of certain epicures by mentioning its 
weight ?). Tiberius ordered it to be sent to the 
fish-market and put up for sale, remarking : "I 
shall be taken entirely by surprise, my friends, if 
either Apicius " or P. Octavius " does not buy that 
mullet." The guess came true beyond his expecta- 
tion : the two men bid, and Octavius won, thereby 
acquiring a great reputation among his intimates 
because he had bought for five thousand sesterces 
a fish which the Emperor had sold, and which even 
Apicius did not succeed in buying. To pay such a 
price was disgraceful for Octavius, but not for the 
individual who purchased the fish in order to present 
it to Tiberius, — though I should be inchned to blame 
the latter as well ; but at any rate he admired a 
gift of which he thought Caesar worthy. 



43 Amico aliquis aegro adsidet : probamus. At hoc 
hereditatis causa facit : vultur est, cadaver expectat. 
Eadem aut turpia sunt aut honesta ; refert, quare 
aut quemadmodum fiant. Omnia autem honesta 
fient, si honesto nos addixerimus idque unum in rebus 
humanis bonum iudicaverimus quaeque ex eo sunt ; 

44 cetera in diem bona sunt. Ergo infigi debet persuasio 
ad totam pertinens vitam : hoc est, quod decretum 
voco. Quahs haec persuasio fuerit, talia erunt, quae 
agentur, quae cogitabuntur. Quaha autem haec 
fuerint, talis vita erit. In particulas suasisse totum 

45 ordinanti parum est. M. Brutus in eo hbro, quern 
Trepl Kadt']KovTos inscripsit, dat multa praecepta et 
parentibus et Uberis et fratribus ; haec nemo faciet 
quemadmodum debet, nisi habuerit quo referat.^ 
Proponamus oportet finem summi boni, ad quem 
nitamur, ad quem omne factum nostrum dictum- 
que respiciat ; veluti navigantibus ad ahquod sidus 

46 derigendus est cursus. Vita sine proposito vaga est : 
quod si utique proponendum est, incipiunt necessaria 
esse decreta. Illud, ut puto, concedes, nihil esse tur- 
pius dubio et incerto ac timide ^ pedem referente. 
Hoc in omnibus rebus accidet nobis, nisi ^ eximuntur, 
quae reprendunt^ animos et detinent et periclitari 
conarique ^ totos vetant. 

47 Quomodosintdicolendi,soletpraecipi. Accendere 
aliquem lucernas sabbatis prohibeamus, quoniam 

^ referat Muretus ; perferat BA. 

2 ac timide Bartsch ; actimido BA. 

* nisi later MSS. ; om. BA. 

* reprendunt later MSS. ; reppendunt BA. 

* periclitari conarique Hense ; et preconarique BA. 

" A frequent vice under the Empire, nicknamed captatio. 
* llepl KadfjKovTos, — a subject handled by Panaetius, and 
by Cicero {De Officiis). 



When people sit by the bedsides of their sick 
friends, we honour their motives. But when people 
do this for the purpose of attaining a legacy," they 
are like vultures waiting for carrion. The same act 
may be either shameful or honourable : the purpose 
and the manner make all the difference. Now each 
of our acts will be honourable if we declare allegiance 
to honour and judge honour and its results to be 
the only good that can fall to man's lot ; for other 
things are only temporarily good. I think, then, 
that there should be deeply implanted a firm belief 
which will apply to life as a whole : this is what 
I call a " doctrine." And as this belief is, so will 
be our acts and our thoughts. As our acts and our 
thoughts are, so will our lives be. It is not enough, 
when a man is arranging his existence as a whole, 
to give him advice about details. Marcus Brutus, in 
the book which he has entitled Concerning Duty,^ gives 
many precepts to parents, children, and brothers; 
but no one will do his duty as he ought, unless he has 
some principle to which he may refer his conduct. 
We must set before our eyes the goal of the Supreme 
Good, towards which we may strive, and to which all 
our acts and words may have reference — ^just as 
sailors must guide their course according to a certain 
star. Life without ideals is erratic : as soon as an 
ideal is to be set up, doctrines begin to be necessary. 
I am sure you will admit that there is nothing more 
shameful than uncertain and wavering conduct, than 
the habit of timorous retreat. This will be our 
experience in all cases unless we remove that which 
checks the spirit and clogs it, and keeps it from 
making an attempt and trying with all its might. 

Precepts are commonly given as to how the gods 
should be worshipped. But let us forbid lamps to 



nee lumine di egent et ne homines quidem delec- 
tantur fuligine. Vetemus salutationibus matutinis 
• fungi et foribus adsidere templorum ; humana am- 
bitio istis officiis capitur, deum colit qui novit. Vete- 
mus lintea et strigiles lovi ferre et speculum tenere 
lunoni ; non quaerit ministros deus. Quidni ? Ipse 
humano generi ministrat, ubique et omnibus praesto 
est. Audiat licet, quern modum servare in sacrificiis 
debeat, quam procul resilire a molestis superstitioni- 
bus, numquam satis profectum erit, nisi qualem debet 
deum mente conceperit, omnia habentem, omnia 
tribuentem, beneficum ^ gratis. Quae causa est dis 
49 bene faciendi ? Natura. Errat, si quis illos putat 
nocere nolle ; non possunt. Nee accipere iniuriam 
queunt nee facere ; laedere etenim laedique coniunc- 
tum est. Summa ilia ac pulcherrima omnium natura 
quos periculo exemit, ne periculosos quidem fecit. 
60 Primus est deorum cultus deos credere ; deinde 
reddere illis maiestatem suam, reddere bonitatem, 
sine qua nulla maiestas est. Scire illos esse, qui 
praesident mundo, qui universa vi sua temperant, 
qui humahi generis tutelam gerunb interdum in- 
curiosi ^ singulorum. Hi nee dant malum nee habent ; 
ceterum castigant quosdam et coercent et inrogant 

' beneficum cod. Velz., also Windhaus and Madvig ; 
beneficium BA. 

2 incuriosi Madvig ; curiosi BA. 

" i.e., the significant features of athletics and adornment 
for men and women respectively. 



be lighted on the Sabbath, since the gods do not 
need hght, neither do men take pleasure in soot. 
Let us forbid men to offer morning salutation and 
to throng the doors of temples ; mortal ambitions 
are attracted by such ceremonies, but God is 
worshipped by those who truly know Him. Let us 
forbid bringing towels and flesh-scrapers to Jupiter, 
and proffering mirrors to Juno ; " for God seeks no 
servants. Of course not ; he himself does service to 
mankind, everywhere and to all he is at hand to 
help. Although a man hear what limit he should 
observe in sacrifice, and how far he should recoil 
from burdensome superstitions, he will never make 
sufficient progress until he has conceived a right idea 
of God, — regarding Him as one who possesses all 
things, and allots all things, and bestows them without 
price. And what reason have the gods for doing 
deeds of kindness ? It is their nature. One who 
thinks that they are unwilling to do harm, is wrong ; 
they cannot do harm. They cannot receive or inflict 
injury ; for doing harm is in the same category as 
suffering harm. The universal nature, all-glorious 
and all-beautiful, has rendered incapable of inflicting 
ill those whom it has removed from the danger of 

The first way to worship the gods is to believe in 
the gods ; the next to acknowledge their majesty, 
to acknowledge their goodness without which there 
is no majesty. Also, to know that they are supreme 
commanders in the universe, controlling all things 
by their power and acting as guardians of the human 
race, even though they are sometimes unmindful of 
the individual. They neither give nor have evil ; but 
they do chasten and restrain certain persons, and 
impose penalties, and sometimes punish by bestowing 



poenas et aliquando specie boni puniunt. Vis deos 
propitiare ? Bonus esto. Satis illos coluit, quisquis 
imitatus est. 

51 Ecce altera quaestio, quomodo hominibus sit 
utendum. Quid agimus ? Quae damus prae- 
cepta ? Ut parcamus sanguini humano ? Quantulum 
est ei non nocere, cui debeas prodesse ! Magna 
scilicet laus est, si homo mansuetus homini est. 
Praecipiemus, ut naufrago manum porrigat, erranti 
viam monstret, cum esuriente panem suum dividat ? 
Quando omnia, quae praestanda ac vitanda sunt, 
dicam, cum possim breviter hanc illi formulam humani 

52 officii tradere : omne hoc, quod vides, quo divina 
atque humana conclusa sunt, unum est ; membra 
sumus corporis magni. Natura nos cognatos edidit, 
cum ex isdem et in eadem gigneret, Haec nobis 
amorem indidit mutuum et sociabiles fecit. Ilia 
aequum iustumque composuit ; ex illius constitu- 
tione miserius est nocere quam laedi. Ex illius im- 

53 perio paratae sint iuvandis manus. Ille versus et 
in pectore et in ore sit : 

Homo sum, humani nihil a me ahenum puto. 

Habeamus in commune ; nati sumus. Societas nostra 
lapidum fornicationi simillima est, quae casura, nisi 
in vicem obstarent, hoc ipso sustinetur. 

54 Post deos hominesque dispiciamus, quomodo rebus 

" Terence, Heautontimorumfnos, 77. 


that which seems good outwardly. Would you win 
over the gods ? Then be a good man. Whoever 
imitates them, is worshipping them sufficiently. 

Then comes the second problem, — how to deal with 
men. What is our purpose ? What precepts do we 
offer ? Should we bid them refrain from bloodshed ? 
What a Httle thing it is not to harm one whom you 
ought to help ! It is indeed worthy of great praise, 
when man treats man with kindness ! Shall we 
advise stretching forth the hand to the shipwrecked 
sailor, or pointing out the way to the wanderer, or 
sharing a crust with the starving ? Yes, if I can 
only tell you first everything which ought to be 
afforded or withheld ; meantime, I can lay down 
for mankind a rule, in short compass, for our duties in 
human relationships : all that you behold, that which 
comprises both god and man, is one — we are the 
parts of one great bo'dy. Nature produced us 
related to one another, since she created us from the 
same source and to the same end. She engendered 
in us mutual affection, and made us prone to friend- 
ships. She established fairness and justice ; accord- 
ing to her ruling, it is more wretched to commit than 
to suffer injury. Through her orders, our hands are 
ready to help in the good work. Let this verse be 
in your heart and on your lips ; 

I am a man ; and nothing in man's lot 
Do I deem foreign to me." 

Let us possess things in common ; for birth is ours 
in common. Our relations with one another are like 
a stone arch, which would collapse if the stones did 
not mutually support each other, and which is upheld 
in this very way. 

Next, after considering gods and men, let us see 



situtendum. In supervacuum praecepta iactavimus, 
nisi illud praecesserit, qualem de quacumque re 
habere debeamus opinionem, de paupertate de 
divitiis, de gloria de ignominia, de patria de exilio. 
Aestimemus singula fama remota et quaeramus, 
quid sint, non quid vocentur. 

55 Ad virtutes transeamus. Praecipiet aliquis, ut 
prude ntiam magni aestimemus, ut fortitudinem com- 
plectamur, iustitiam, si fieri potest, propius etiam 
quam ceteras nobis adplicemus, Sed nil aget, si 
ignoramus, quid sit virtus, una sit an plures, separatae 
aut innexae, an qui unam habet et ceteras habeat, 

56 quo inter se difFerant. Non est necesse fabro de 
fabrica quaerere, quod eius initium, quis usus sit, 
non magis quam pantomimo de arte saltandi ; omnes 
istae artes si se sciunt,^ nihil deest ; non enim ad 
totam pertinent vitam. Virtus et aliorum scientia 
est et sui ; discendum de ipsa est, ut ipsa discatvu". 

57 Actio recta non erit, nisi recta fuerit voluntas, ab hac 
enim est actio. Rursus voluntas non erit recta, nisi 
habitus animi rectus fuerit, ab hoc enim est voluntas. 
Habitus porro animi non erit in optimo, nisi totius 
vitae leges perceperit et quid de quoque iudicandum 
sit, exegerit, nisi res ad verum redegerit. Non con- 
tingit tranquillitas nisi inmutabile certumque iudi- 

^ istae artes si se sciunt Haupt ; ista certa esse sciunt BA. 


how we should make use of things. It is useless for 
us to have mouthed our precepts, unless we begin by- 
reflecting what opinion we ought to hold concerning 
everything— concerning poverty, riches, renown, dis- 
grace, citizenship, exile. Let us banish rumour and 
set a value upon each thing, asking what it is and 
not what it is called. 

Now let us turn to a consideration of the virtues. 
Some persons will advise us to rate prudence very 
high, to cherish bravery, and to cleave more closely, 
if possible, to justice than to all other qualities. 
But this will do us no good if we do not know 
what virtue is, whether it is simple or compound, 
whether it is one or more than one, whether its 
parts are separate or interwoven with one another ; 
whether he who has one virtue possesses the other 
virtues also ; and just what are the distinctions 
between them. The carpenter does not need to 
inquire about his art in the light of its origin or of 
its function, any more than a pantomime need inquire 
about the art of dancing ; if these arts understand 
themselves, nothing is lacking, for they do not refer 
to Hfe as a whole. But virtue means the know- 
ledge of other things besides herself : if we would 
learn virtue we must learn all about virtue. Conduct 
will not be right unless the will to act is right ; for 
this is the source of conduct. Nor, again, can the will 
be right without a right attitude of mind ; for this 
is the source of the will. Furthermore, such an 
attitude of mind will not be found even in the best 
of men unless he has learned the laws of life as a 
whole and has worked out a proper judgment about 
everything, and unless he has reduced facts to a 
standard of truth. Peace of mind is enjoyed only 
by those who have attained a fixed and unchanging 



cium adeptis ; ceteri decidunt subinde et reponuntur 
et inter missa adpetitaque alternis fluctuantur. 

58 Causa his ^ quae iactationis est ? Quod nihil liquet 
incertissimo regimine utentibus, fama. Si vis eadem 
semper velle, vera oportet velis. Ad verum sine 
decretis non pervenitur ; continent vitam. Bona et 
mala, honesta et turpia, iusta et iniusta, pia et impia, 
virtutes ususque virtutum, rerum commodarum 
possessio, existimatio ac dignitas,^ valitudo, vires, 
forma, sagacitas ^ sensuum ; haec omnia aestima- 
torem desiderant. Scire liceat, quanti quidque in 

59 censum deferendum sit. Falleris enim et pluris 
quaedam quam sunt putas, adeoque falleris, ut, 
quae maximi inter nos habentur, divitiae, gratia, 
potentia, sestertio nummo aestimanda sint. 

Hoc nescies, nisi constitutionem ipsam, qua ista 
inter se aestimantur, inspexeris. Quemadmodum 
folia per se virere non possunt, ramum desiderant, 
cui inhaereant, ex quo trahant sucum ; sic ista 
praecepta, si sola sunt, marcent ; infigi volunt sectae. 

60 Praeterea non intellegunt hi, qui decreta tollunt, eo 
ipso confirmari ilia, quo toUuntur. Quid enim dicunt ? 
Praeceptis vitam satis explicari, supervacua esse 
decreta sapientiae, id est dogmata. Atqui hoc 

^ causa his Gertz ; causarisque BA. 

* dignitas later MSS. ; dignitatis BA. 

' sagacitas later MSS. ; sagittas or sanitas BA. 

" Cf. Ep. xciv. 12 and note. 


standard of judgment ; the rest of mankind continually 
ebb and flow in their decisions, floating in a condition 
where they alternately reject things and seek them. 
And what is the reason for this tossing to and fro ? 
It is because nothing is clear to them, because they 
make use of a most unsure criterion — rumour. If 
you would always desire the same things," you must 
desire the truth. But one cannot attain the truth 
without doctrines ; for doctrines embrace the whole 
of life. Things good and evil, honourable and dis- 
graceful, just and unjust, dutiful and undutiful, the 
virtues and their practice, the possession of comforts, 
worth and respect, health, strength, beauty, keenness 
of the senses — all these qualities call for one who 
is able to appraise them. One should be allowed 
to know at what value every object is to be rated 
on the list ; for sometimes you are deceived and 
believe that certain things are worth more than 
their real value ; in fact, so badly are you deceived 
that you will find you should value at a mere penny- 
worth those things which we men regard as worth most 
of all — for example, riches, influence, and power. 

You will never understand this unless you have 
investigated the actual standard by which such 
conditions are relatively rated. As leaves cannot 
flourish by their own efforts, but need a branch to 
which they may cling and from which they may 
draw sap, so your precepts, when taken alone, 
wither away ; they must be grafted upon a school 
of philosophy. Moreover, those who do away with 
doctrines do not understand that these doctrines are 
strengthened by the very fact of their removal. For 
what are these men saying ? They are saying that 
precepts are sufficient to develop life, and that the 
doctrines of wisdom (in other words, dogmas) are 



ipsum, quod dicunt, decretum est tam me hercules ^ 
quam si nunc ego dicerem recedendum a praeceptis 
velut supervacuis, utendum esse decretis, in haec 
sola studium confer endum ; hoc ipso, quo negarem 

61 curanda esse praecepta, praeciperem. Quaedam ad- 
monitionem in philosophia desiderant, quaedam 
probationem et quidem multam,^ quia involuta sunt 
vixque summa diligentia ac summa subtilitate ape- 
riuntur. Si probationes necessariae sunt, et decreta, 
quae veritatem argumentis colligunt. Quaedam 
aperta sunt, quaedam obscura : aperta, quae sensu 
conprehenduntur, quae memoria ; obscura, quae 
extra haec sunt. 

Ratio autem non impletur manifestis ; maior eius 
pars pulchriorque in occultis est. Occulta pro- 
bationem exigunt, probatio non sine decretis est ; 

62 necessaria ergo decreta sunt. Quae res communem 
sensum facit, eadem perfectum, certa rerum ^ per- 
suasio ; sine qua si omnia in animo natant, necessaria 
sunt decreta, quae dant animis inflexibile iudicium. 

63 Denique cum monemus aliquem, ut amicum eodem 
habeat loco, quo se, ut ex inimico cogitet fieri 
posse amicum, in illo amorem incitet, in hoc odium 
moderetur, adicimus : " iustum est et honestum." 
lustum autem honestumque decretorum nostrorum 
continet ratio ; ergo haec necessaria est, sine qua 

64 nee ilia sunt. Sed utrumque iungamus. Namque 

^ tam me hercules cod. Velz. ; tam hercules BA. 

* multam Madvig ; multa BA. 

• certa rerum Schweighaeuser ; certarum and certum BA. 

" i.e., progressing from a ^avraffla in general to a (pavracrla 


' Seneca characteristically ignores the unpleasant half of 
the proverb : <f>i\e?u ws /jncr-^jwi' Kal fucxelv ws <f>i\ri<rui'. 



superfluous. And yet this very utterance of theirs 
is a doctrine,— just as if I should now remark that 
one must dispense with precepts on the ground that 
they are superfluous, that one must make use of 
doctrines, and that our studies should be directed 
solely towards this end ; thus, by my very statement 
that precepts should not be taken seriously, I should 
be uttering a precept. There are certain matters in 
philosophy which need admonition ; there are others 
which need proof, and a great deal of proof, too, 
because they are complicated and can scarcely be 
made clear with the greatest care and the greatest 
dialectic skill. If proofs are necessary, so are doc- 
trines ; for doctrines deduce the truth by reasoning. 
Some matters are clear, and others are vague : those 
which the senses and the memory can embrace are 
clear ; those which are outside their scope are vague. 

But reason is not satisfied by obvious facts ; its 
higher and nobler function is to deal with hidden 
things. Hidden things need proof; proof cannot 
come without doctrines ; therefore, doctrines are 
necessary. That which leads to a general agreement, 
and likewise to a perfect one,** is an assured belief 
in certain facts ; but if, lacking this assurance, all 
things are adrift in our minds, then doctrines are 
indispensable ; for they give to our minds the means of 
unswerving decision. Furthermore, when we advise a 
man to regard his friends as highly as himself, to reflect 
that an enemy may become a friend,** to stimulate 
love in the friend, and to check hatred in the enemy, 
we add : "This is just and honourable." Now the just 
and honourable element in our doctrines is embraced 
by reason ; hence reason is necessary ; for without 
it the doctrines cannot exist, either. But let us 
unite the two. For indeed branches are useless 

VOL, in H 97 


et sine radice inutiles rami sunt et ipsae radices iis, 
quae genuere, adiuvantur. Quantum utilitatis manus 
habeant, nescire nulli licet, aperte iuvant ; cor illud, 
quo manus vivunt, ex quo impetum sumunt, quo 
moventur, latet. Idem dicere de praeceptis possum : 
aperta sunt, decreta vero sapientiae in abdito. Sicut 
sanctiora sacrorum tantum initiati sciunt, ita in 
philosophia arcana ilia admissis receptisque in sacra 
ostenduntur ; at praecepta et alia eiusmodi profanis 
quoque nota sunt. 

65 Posidonius non tantum praeceptionem, nihil enim 
nos hoc verbo uti prohibet, sed etiam suasionem et 
consolationem et exhortationem necessariam iudicat. 
His adicit causarum inquisitionem, aetiologian quam 
quare nos dicere non audeamus, cum grammatici, 
custodes Latini sermonis, suo iure ita appellent, non 
video. Ait utilem futuram et descriptionem cuiusque 
virtutis ; hanc Posidonius ethologian vocat, quidam 
characterismon appellant, signa cuiusque virtutis ac 
vitii et notas reddentem, quibus inter se similia 

66 discriminentur. Haec res eandem vim ^ habet quam 
praecipere. Nam qui praecipit, dicit : " ilia facies, 
si voles temperans esse." Qui describit, ait : " tem- 
perans est, qui ilia facit, qui ilhs abstinet." Quaeris, 
quid intersit ? Alter praecepta virtutis dat, alter 
exemplar. Descriptiones has et, ut publicanorum 

^ eandem xnm cod, Velz. ; earn demum BA. 

" e.g., in the mysteries of Eleusis, etc. 

* For these terms see Spengel, Rhet. Graec, passim. 
Quintilian i. 9. 3 says ethologia personis continetur ; and 
Cicero, De Oral. iii. 205, in a list of figures with which the 
orator should be familiar, includes character ismos, or 



without their roots, and the roots themselves are 
strengthened by the growths which they have pro- 
duced. Everyone can understand how useful the 
hands are ; they obviously help us. But the heart, 
the source of the hands' growth and power and 
motion, is hidden. And I can say the same thing 
about precepts : they are manifest, while the doc- 
trines of wisdom are concealed. And as only the 
initiated <* know the more hallowed portion of the 
rites, so in philosophy the hidden truths are 
revealed only to those who are members and have 
been admitted to the sacred rites. But precepts 
and other such matters are familiar even to the 

Posidonius holds that not only precept-giving 
(there is nothing to prevent my using this word), but 
even persuasion, consolation, and encouragement, 
are necessary. To these he adds the investigation of 
causes (but I fail to see why I should not dare to 
call it aetiology, since the scholars who mount guard 
over the Latin language thus use the term as having 
the right to do so). He remarks that it will also 
be useful to illustrate each particular virtue ; this 
science Posidonius calls ethology, while others call it 
characterization fi It gives the signs and marks which 
belong to each virtue and vice, so that by them dis- 
tinction may be drawn between hke things. Its 
function is the same as that of precept. For he who 
utters precepts says : "If you would have self- 
control, act thus and so ! " He who illustrates, says : 
" The man who acts thus and so, and refrains from 
certain other things, possesses self-control." If you 
ask what the difference here is, I say that the one 
gives the precepts of virtue, the other its embodi- 
ment. These illustrations, or, to use a commercial 



utar verbo, iconismos ^ ex usu esse confiteor ; pro- 

67 ponamus laudanda, invenietur imitator. Putas utile 
dari tibi argumenta, per quae intellegas nobilem 
equum, ne fallaris empturus, ne operam perdas in 
ignavo ? Quanto hoc utilius est, excellentis animi 
notas nosse, quas ex alio in se transferre permittitur. 

68 Continue pecoris generosi puUus in arvis 
Altius ingreditur et mollia crura reponit ; 
Primus et ire viam et fluvios temptare minantis 
Audet et ignoto sese committere ponti. 

Nee \-anos horret strepitus. lUi ardua cervix 
Argutumque caput, brevis alvus obesaque terga, 
Luxuriatque toris animosum pectus. . . . 
. . . Turn, si qua sonum procul arma dederunt. 
Stare loco nescit, micat auribus et tremit artus 
Conlectumque premens volvit sub naribus ignem. 

69 Dum aliud agit, Vergilius noster descripsit virum 
fortem ; ego certe non aliam imaginem magno viro 
dederim. Si mihi M. Cato exprimendus sit,^ inter 
fragores bellorum civilium inpavidus et primus in- 
cessens admotos^ iam exercitus Alpibus civilique 
se bello ferens obvium, non alium illi adsignaverim 

70 vultum, non alium habitum. Altius certe nemo 
ingredi potuit quam qui simul contra Caesarem 

^ iconismos cod. Velz. ; iconismo BA. 

* sit added by Hermes. 

' admotos Pine. ; admotus BA. 

« For the same figure, similarly applied, see Ep. kxx. 9 
and note. 

'' Vergil, Georg. iii. 75 if. 



term, these samples, have, I confess, a certain utiUty ; 
just put them up for exhibition well recommended, 
and you will find men to copy them. Would you, 
for instance, deem it a useful thing to have evidence 
given you by which you may recognize a thorough- 
bred hoi-se, and not be cheated in your purchase 
or waste your time over a low-bred animal ? " But 
how much more useful it is to know the marks 
of a surpassingly fine soul — marks which one may 
appropriate from another for oneself ! 

Straightway the foal of the high-bred drove, nursed up in the 

Marches with spirited step, and treads with a delicate motion ; 
First on the dangerous pathway and into the threatening 

Trusting himself to the unknown bridge, without fear at its 

Neck thrown high in the air, and clear-cut head, and a belly 
Spare, back rounded, and breast abounding in courage and 

He, when the clashing of weapons is heard to resound in the 

Leaps from his place, and pricks up his ears, and all in a 

Pours forth the pent-up fire that lay close-shut in his nostrils.'' 

Vergil's description, though referring to' something 
else, might perfectly well be the portrayal of a brave 
man ; at any rate, I myself should select no other 
simile for a hero. If I had to describe Cato, who 
was unterrified amid the din of civil war, who was 
first to attack the armies that were already making 
for the Alps, who plunged face-forward into the civil 
conflict, this is exactly the sort of expression and 
attitude which I should give him. Surely none 
could " march with more spirited step " than one 
who rose against Caesar and Pompey at the same 



Pompeiumque se sustulit et aliis Caesareanas opes, 
aliis Pompeianas foventibus ^ utrumque provocavit 
ostenditque aliquas esse et rei publicae partes. Nam 
parum est in Catone dicere : " nee vanos horret 
strepitus." Quidni ? Cum veros ^ vicinosque non 
horreat, cum contra decem legiones et Gallica auxilia 
et mixta barbarica arma civilibus vocem liberam 
mittat et rem publicam hortetur, ne pro libertate 
decidat, sed omnia ^ experiatur, honestius in servi- 

71 tutem casura quam itura. Quantum in illo vigoris ac 
spiritus, quantum in publica trepidatione fiducia est ! 
Scit se unum esse, de cuius statu non agatur ; non 
enim quaeri, an liber Cato, sed an inter liberos sit ; 
inde periculorum gladiorumque ^ contemptus. Libet 
admirantem invictam constantiam viri inter publicas 
ruinas non labantis dicere : " luxuriatque toris 
animosum pectus." 

72 Proderit non tantum quales esse soleant bond viri 
dicere formamque eorum et lineamenta deducere, 
sed quales fuerint narrare et exponere, Catonis illud 
ultimum ac fortissimum vulnus, per quod libertas 
emisit ^ animam, Laeli sapientiam et cum suo 
Scipione concordiam, alterius Catonis domi forisque 
egregia facta, Tuberonis ligneos lectos, cum in pub- 
licum sternerent, haedinasque pro stragulis pelles et 

^ foventibus later MSS. ; tibi foventibus BA ; sibi 
foventibus edd. 

^ veros later MSS, ; viros BA. 

^ omnia cod. Harl. ; omitted by BA. 

* gladiorumque later MSS. ; gladiatorumque BA. 

' emisit Stephanus ; amisit BA. 

" For example, Cato had from the first opposed any 
assumption of illegal power, — objecting to the consulship 
of Pompey and Crassus in 55 b.c, and to the conduct of 
Caesar throughout. His disapproval of both simultaneously 
is hinted in Plutarch's Cato the Younger, liv. 4. 



time and, when some were supporting Caesar's party 
and others that of Pompey , issued a challenge to both 
leaders,* thus showing that the republic also had 
some backers. For it is not enough to say of Cato 
" without fear at its creakings." Of course he is not 
afraid ! He does not quail before real and imminent 
noises ; in the face of ten legions, Gallic auxiliaries, 
and a motley host of citizens and foreigners, he 
utters words fraught with freedom, encouraging 
the Republic not to fail in the struggle for freedom, 
but to try all hazards ; he declares that it is more 
honourable to fall into servitude than to fall in line 
with it. What force and energy are his ! What 
confidence he displays amid the general panic ! He 
knows that he is the only one whose standing is not 
in question, and that men do not ask whether Cato 
is free, but whether he is still among the free. Hence 
his contempt for danger and the sword. What a 
pleasure it is to say, in admiration of the unflinching 
steadiness of a hero who did not totter when the 
whole state was in ruins : 

A breast abounding in courage and muscle ! 

It will be helpful not only to state what is the 
usual quality of good men, and to outline their 
figures and features, but also to relate and set 
forth what men there have been of this kind. 
We might picture that last and bravest wound of 
Cato's, through which Freedom breathed her last ; 
or the wise Laelius and his harmonious life with his 
friend Scipio ; or the noble deeds of the Elder Cato 
at home and abroad ; or the wooden couches of 
Tubero, spread at a public feast, goatskins instead 
of tapestry, and vessels of earthernware set out for 



ante ipsius lovis cellam adposita conviviis vasa fictilia 
Quid aliud paupertatem in Capitolio consecrare ? 
Ut nullum aliud factum eius habeam, quo ilium 
Catonibus inseram, hoc parum credimus ? Censura 
73 fuit ilia, non cena. O quam ignorant homines cupidi 
gloriae, quid ilia sit aut quemadmodum petenda ! 
lUo die populus Romanus multorum supellectilem 
spectavit, unius miratus est. Omnium illorum aurum 
argentumque fractum est et milliens ^ conflatum, at 
omnibus saeculis Tuberonis fictilia durabunt. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

Tamen tu indignaris aliquid aut quereris et non 
intellegis nihil esse in istis mali nisi hoc unum, quod 
indignaris et quereris ? Si me interrogas, nihil puto 
viro miserum nisi aliquid esse in rerum natura, quod 
putet miserum. Non feram me, quo die ah quid ferre 
non potero. 

Male valeo ; pars fati est. FamiHa decubuit, 
faenus ofFendit, domus crepuit, damna, vulnera, 
labores, metus incucurrerunt ; solet fieri. Hoc parum 
est ; debuit fieri. Decernuntur ista, non accidunt. 
Si quid credis mihi, intimos adfectus meos tibi cum 
maxime detego ; in omnibus, quae adversa videntur 
et dura, sic formatus sum : non pareo deo, sed 

^ et milliens later MSS. ; et in miUiens BA. 

" The Latin term can hardly be reproduced, though " he 
did not regale but regulate " comes near it. Tubero's act 
was that of a true censor morum. 



the banquet before the very shrine of Jupitf^r ! 
What else was this except consecrating poverty on 
the Capitol ? Though I know no other deed of his 
for which to rank him with the Catos, is this one not 
enough ? It was a censorship, not a banquet." How 
lamentably do those who covet glory fail to under- 
stand what glory is, or in what way it should be 
sought ! On that day the Roman populace viewed 
the furniture of many men ; it marvelled only at 
that of one ! The gold and silver of all the others has 
been broken up and melted down times without 
number ; but Tubero's earthenware will endure 
throughout eternity. Farewell. 


Spite of all do you still chafe and complain, not 
understanding that, in all the evils to which you 
refer, there is really only one — the fact that you do 
chafe and complain ? If you ask me, I think that 
for a man there is no misery unless there be some- 
thing in the universe which he thinks miserable. I 
shall not endure myself on that day when I find 
anything unendurable. 

I am ill ; but that is a part of my lot. My slaves 
have fallen sick, my income has gone off, my house 
is rickety, I have been assailed by losses, accidents, 
toil, and fear ; this is a common thing. Nay, that 
was an understatement ; it was an inevitable thing. 
Such affairs come by order, and not by accident. If 
you will believe me, it is my inmost emotions that I 
am just now disclosing to you : when everything 
seems to go hard and uphill, I have trained myself 
not merely to obey God, but to agree with His 



adsentior. Ex animo ilium, non quia necesse est, 
sequor. Nihil umquam mihi incidet, quod tristis 
excipiam, quod malo vultu. Nullum tributum invitus 
conferam. Omnia autem, ad quae gemimus, quae 
expavescimus, tributa vitae sunt ; horum, mi Lucili, 
nee speraveris immunitatem nee petieris. 

3 Vesicae ^ te dolor inquietavit, epistulae venerunt ^ 
parum dulces, detrimenta continua, propius ^ acce- 
dam, de capite timuisti. Quid, tu nesciebas haec te 
optare, cum optares senectutem ? Omnia ista in 
longa vita sunt, quomodo in longa via et pulvis et 

4 lutum et pluvia. " Sed volebam vivere, carere tamen 
incommodis omnibus." Tam efFeminata vox virum 
dedecet. Videris, quemadmodum hoc votum meum 
excipias ; ego illud magno animo, non tantum bono 
facio : neque di neque deae faciant, ut te fortuna 

5 in deliciis habeat. Ipse te interroga, si quis potes- 
tatem tibi deus faciat, utrum velis vivere in macello 
an in castris. 

Atqui vivere, Lucili, militare est. Itaque hi, qui 
iactantur et per operosa atque ardua sursum ac 
deorsum eunt et expeditiones periculosissimas obeunt, 
fortes viri sunt primoresque castrorum ; isti, quos 
putida ■* quies aliis laborantibus molliter habet, 
turturillae sunt, tuti contumeliae causa. Vale. 

^ vesicae later MSS. ; vesica BA. 

* venerunt von Ian ; vera erunt BA. 

^ propius later MwSS. ; propitius BA. 

* putida later MSS. ; putica BA. 



decisions. I follow Him because my soul wills it, and j 
not because I must." Nothing will ever happen to me / 
that I shall receive with ill humour or with a wry face. / 
I shall pay up all my taxes willingly. Now all the I 
things which cause us to groan or recoil, are part of \ 
the tax of life — things, my dear Lucilius, which you 1 
should never hope and never seek to escape. ^ 

It was disease of the bladder that made you appre- 
hensive ; downcast letters came from you ; you were 
continually getting worse ; I will touch the truth 
more closely, and say that you feared for your Ufe. 
But come, did you not know, when you prayed for long 
life, that this was what you were praying for ? A long 
life includes all these troubles, just as a long journey 
includes dust and mud and rain. " But," you cry, " I 
wished to live, and at the same time to be immune 
from all ills." Such a womanish cry does no credit to 
a man. Consider in what attitude you shall receive 
this prayer of mine (I offer it not only in a good, 
but in a noble spirit) : " May gods and goddesses 
alike forbid that Fortune keep you in luxury ! " 
Ask yourself voluntarily which you would choose if 
some god gave you the choice — ^life in a cafe or life 
in a camp. 

And yet Hfe, Lucilius, is really a battle. For this 
reason those who are tossed about at sea, who proceed 
uphill and downhill over toilsome crags and heights, 
who go on cajnpaigns that bring the greatest danger, 
are heroes and front-rank fighters ; but persons who 
live in rotten luxury and ease while others toil, are 
mere turtle-doves — safe only because men despise 
them. Farewell. 

" Cf. the words ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt 
oi Ep. evil. 11. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Erras, mi Lucili, si existimas nostri saeculi esse 
vitium luxuriam et neglegentiam boni moris et alia, 
quae obiecit suis quisque temporibus ; hominura sunt 
ista, non temporum. Nulla aetas vacavit a culpa. 
Et si aestimare licentiam cuiusque saeculi incipias, 
pudet dicere, numquam apertius quam coram Catone 

2 peccatum est. Credat aliquis pecuniam esse ver- 
satam in eo iudicio, in quo reus erat P.^ Clodius ob 
id adulterium, quod cum Caesaris uxore in operto ^ 
commiserat violatis religionibus eius sacrificii, quod 
pro populo fieri dicitur sic summotis extra consaep- 
tum omnibus viris, ut picturae quoque masculorum 
animalium contegantur ? Atqui dati iudicibus num- 
mi sunt et, quod hac etiamnunc pactione turpius est, 
stupra insuper matronarum et adulescentulorum 

3 nobiBum stilari loco exacta sunt. Minus crimine 
quam absolutione peccatum est : adulterii reus adul- 
teria divisit nee ante fuit de salute securus, quam 
similes sui iudices suos reddidit. Haec in eo iudicio 
facta sunt, in quo, si nihil aliud, Cato testimonium 

Ipsa ponam verba Ciceronis, quia res fidem excedit 

1 P. ed. Mentel. ; A. BA. 
operto later MSS. ; aperto BA. 

"» For the best account of this scandal see Plutarch, 
Caesar, ix. f. 

* From stilla, " a drop." The phrase is equivalent to 
our proverbial " last straw." 

* Epp. ad Atticum, i. 16. 



You are mistaken, my dear Lucilius, if you think 
that luxury, neglect of good manners, and other 
vices of which each man accuses the age in which 
he lives, are especially characteristic of our own 
epoch ; no, they are the vices of mankind and not 
of the times. No era in history has ever been free 
from blame. Moreover, if you once begin to take 
account of the irregularities belonging to any 
particular era, you will find — to man's shame be it 
spoken — that sin never stalked abroad more openly 
than in Cato's very presence. Would anyone 
believe that money changed hands in the trial when 
Clodius was defendant on the charge of secret 
adultery with Caesar's wife, when he violated <* the 
ritual of that sacrifice which is said to be offered on 
behalf of the people when all males are so rigorously 
removed outside the precinct, that even pictures of 
all male creatures are covered up ? And yet, 
money was given to the jury, and, baser even than 
such a bargain, sexual crimes were demanded of 
married women and noble youths as a sort of ad- 
ditional contribution.'' The charge involved less 
sin than the acquittal ; for the defendant on a charge 
of adultery parcelled out the adulteries, and was 
not sure of his own safety until he had made the 
jury criminals like himself. All this was done at 
the trial in which Cato gave evidence, although that 
was his sole part therein. 

I shall quote Cicero's actual words,*' because the 
facts are so bad as to pass belief: "He made 



4 " Accersivit ad se, promisit, intercessit, dedit. lam 
vero — o di boni,^ rem perditam ! — etiam noctes cer- 
tarum mulierum atque adulescentulorum nobilium 
introductiones nonnullis iudicibus pro mercedis cu- 

5 mulo fuerunt." Non vacat de pretio queri, plus in 
accessionibus fuit. " Vis severi illius uxorem ? Dabo 
illam. Vis divitis huius ? Tibi praestabo concubi- 
tum. Adulterium nisi feceris, damna. Ilia formonsa, 
quam desideras, veniet. Illius tibi noctem promitto 
nee difFero ; intra comperendinationem fides promissi 
mei stabit.2 " Plus est distribuere adulteria quam 
facere ; hoc vero matribus familiae denuntiare est. 

6 Hi indices Clodiani a senatu petierant praesidium, 
quod non erat nisi damnaturis necessarium, et in- 
petraverant. Itaque eleganter illis Catulus absolute 
reo, " quid vos," inquit, " praesidium a nobis pete- 
batis ? An ne nummi vobis eriperentur ? " Inter 
hos tamen iocos inpune tulit ante indicium adulter, 
in iudicio leno, qui damnationem peius efFugit quam 

7 Quicquam fuisse corruptius illis ^ moribus credis, 
quibus libido non sacris inhiberi, non iudiciis poterat, 
quibus in ea ipsa quaestione, quae extra ordinem 
senatusconsulto exercebatur, plus quam quaerebatur, 
admissum est ? Quaerebatur, an post adulterium 
aliquis posset tutus esse ; apparuit sine adulterio 

* di boni Cicero, Ad Att. i. 16. 5 ; di omitted by BA. 
* mei stabit ed. Yen. ; me extabit BA. 
8 illis later MSS. ; illius BA. 


assignations, promises, pleas, and gifts. And more 
than this (merciful Heavens, what an abandoned 
state of affairs !) upon several of the jury, to round 
out their reward, he even bestowed the enjoyment 
of certain women and meetings with noble youths." 
It is superfluous to be shocked at the bribe ; the 
additions to the bribe were worse. " Will you have 
the wife of that prig, A. ? Very good. Or of B., 
the millionaire ? I will guarantee that you shall 
lie with her. If you fail to commit adultery, condemn 
Clodius. That beauty whom you desire shall visit 
you. I assure you a night in that woman's company 
without delay ; my promise shall be carried out 
faithfully within the legal time of postponement." 
It means more to parcel out such crimes than to 
commit them ; it means blackmailing dignified 
matrons. These jurymen in the Clodius trial had 
asked the Senate for a guard — a favour which would 
have been necessary only for a jury about to convict 
the accused ; and their request had been granted. 
Hence the witty remark of Catulus after the defend- 
ant had been acquitted : " Why did you ask us for 
the guard ? Were you afraid of having your money 
stolen from you? " And yet, amid jests like these, 
he got off unpunished who before the trial was an 
adulterer, during the trial a pander, and who escaped 
conviction more vilely than he deserved it. 

Do you believe that anything could be more 
disgraceful than such moral standards — when lust 
could not keep its hands either from religious worship 
or from the courts of law, when, in the very inquiry 
which was held in special session by order of the 
Senate, more crime was committed than investi- 
gated ? The question at issue was whether one 
could be safe after committing adultery ; it was 



8 tutum esse non posse. Hoc inter Pompeium et 
Caesarem, inter Ciceronem Catonemque commissum 
est, Catonem inquam ilium, quo sedente populus 
negatur permisisse sibi postulare Florales iocos 
nudandarum meretricum, si credis spectasse tunc 
severius homines quam iudicasse. Et fient et facta 
sunt ista, et licentia urbium aliquando disciplina 
metuque, numquam sponte considet. 

9 Non est itaque quod credas nos ^ plurimum libidini 
permisisse, legibus minimum. Longe enim frugalior 
haec iuventus est quam ilia, cum reus adulterium apud 
iudices negaret, iudices apud reum ^ confiterentur, 
cum stuprum committeretur rei iudicandae causa, 
cum Clodius isdem vitiis gratiosus, quibus nocens, 
conciliaturas exerceret in ipsa causae dictione. 
Credat hoc quisquam ? Qui damnabatur uni adul- 

10 terio, absolutus est multis. Omne tempus Clodios, 
non omne Catones feret. Ad deteriora faciles sumus, 
quia nee dux potest nee comes deesse, et res ipsa 
etiam sine duce, sine comite procedit. Non pronum 
est ^ tantum ad vitia, sed praeceps, et quod plerosque 
inemendabiles facit, omnium aliarum artium peccata 
artificibus pudori sunt ofFenduntque deerrantem, 

11 vitae peccata delectant. Non gaudet navigio guber- 

^ nos Haase ; non BA. 

^ reum Pincianus ; eum BA. 

' non pronum est Lipsius ; non prae nuntius BA. 

" A plebeian festival, held April 28, in honour of Flora, an 
Italian divinity connected with Ceres and Venus. For the 
story of Cato (55 b.c.) see Valer. Max. ii. 10. 8. 



shown that one could not be safe without committing 
adultery ! All this bargaining took place in the 
presence of Pompey and Caesar, of Cicero and Cato, 
— yes, that very Cato whose presence, it is said, 
caused the people to refrain from demanding the 
usual quips and cranks of naked actresses at the 
Floralia,''^if you can believe that men were stricter 
in their conduct at a festival than in a court-room ! 
Such things will be done in the future, as they have 
been done in the past ; and the licentiousness of 
cities will sometimes abate through discipline and 
fear, never of itself. 

Therefore, you need not believe that it is we 
who have yielded most to lust and least to 
law. For the young men of to-day live far more 
simple lives than those of an epoch when a defendant 
would plead not guilty to an adultery charge before 
his judges, and his judges admit it before the 
defendant, when debauchery was practised to secure 
a verdict, and when Clodius, befriended by the very 
vices of which he was guilty, played the procurer 
during the actual hearing of the case. Could one 
believe this ? He to whom one adultery brought 
condemnation was acquitted because of many. All 
ages will produce men like Clodius, but not all ages 
men like Cato. We degenerate easily, because we 
lack neither guides nor associates in our wickedness, 
and the wickedness goes on of itself, even without 
guides or associates. The road to vice is not only 
downhill, but steep ; and many men are rendered 
incorrigible by the fact that, while in all other crafts 
errors bring shame to good craftsmen and cause 
vexation to those who go astray, the errors of life 
are a positive source of pleasure. The pilot is not 
glad when his ship is thrown on her beam-ends ; the 

VOL. m I 113 


nator everso, non gaudet aegro medicus elato, non 
gaudet orator, si patroni culpa reus cedidit ; at contra 
omnibus crimen suum voluptati est. Laetatur ille 
adulterio, in quod inritatus est ipsa difficultate. 
Laetatur ille circumscriptione furtoque, nee ante 
illi culpa quam culpae fortuna displicuit. Id prava 
consuetudine evenit. 

12 Alioquin ut scias subesse animis etiam in pessima 
abductis boni sensum nee ignorari turpe, sed neglegi ; 
omnes peccata dissimulant et, quamvis feliciter cesse- 
rint, fructu illorum utuntur, ipsa subducunt. At 
bona conscientia prodire vult et conspici ; ipsas 

13 nequitia tenebras timet. Eleganter itaque ab Epi- 
curo dictum puto : " potest nocenti contingere, ut 
lateat, latendi fides non potest," aut si hoc modo 
melius hunc explicari posse iudicas sensum : " ideo 
non prodest latere peccantibus, quia latendi etiam si 
felicitatem habent, fiduciam non habent." Ita est : 
tuta scelera esse possunt, secura esse non possunt. 

14 Hoc ego repugnare sectae nostrae, si sic expedia- 
tur, non iudico. Quare ? Quia prima ilia et maxima 
peccantium est poena peccasse, nee uUum scelus, 
licet illud fortuna exornet muneribus suis, licet 
tueatur ac vindicet, inpunitum est, quoniam sceleris 

" Epic, Frag. 532 Usener. 


physician is not glad when he buries his patient ; 
the orator is not glad when the defendant loses a 
case through the fault of his advocate ; but on the 
other hand every man enjoys his own crimes. A. 
delights in an intrigue — for it was the very difficulty 
which attracted him thereto. B. delights in forgery 
and theft, and is only displeased with his sin when 
his sin has failed to hit the mark. And all this 
is the result of perverted habits. 

Conversely, however, in order that you may know 
that there is an idea of good conduct present sub- 
consciously in souls which have been led even into the 
most depraved ways, and that men are not ignorant 
of what evil is but indifferent — I say that all men 
hide their sins, and, even though the issue be 
successful, enjoy the results while concealing the 
sins themselves. A good conscience, however, 
wishes to come forth and be seen of men ; wickedness 
fears the very shadows. Hence I hold Epicurus 's 
saying * to be most apt : " That the guilty may 
haply remain hidden is possible, that he should be 
sure of remaining hidden is not possible," or, if you 
think that the meaning can be made more clear in 
this way : " The reason that it is no advantage to 
wrong-doers to remain hidden is that even though 
they have the good fortune they have not the 
assurance of remaining so." This is what I mean : 
crimes can be well guarded ; free from anxiety they 
cannot be. 

This view, I maintain, is not at variance with the 
principles of our school, if it be so explained. And 
why ? Because the first and worst penalty for sin 
is to have committed sin ; and crime, though Fortune 
deck it out with her favours, though she protect and 
take it in her charge, can never go unpunished ; 



in scelere supplicium est. Sed nihilominus et hae 
illam secundae poenae premunt ac secuntur, timere 
semper et expavescere et securitati diffidere. 

Quare ego hoc supplicio nequitiam liberem ? Quare 

15 non semper illam in suspenso relinquam ? Illic 
dissentiamus cum Epicuro, ubi dicit nihil iustum 
esse natura et crimina vitanda esse, quia vitari 
metus non posse ; hie consentiamus mala facinora 
conscientia flagellari et plurimum illi tormentorum 
esse eo, quod perpetua illam sollicitudo urget ac 
verberat, quod sponsoribus securitatis suae non potest 
credere. Hoc enim ipsum argumentum est, Epicure,^ 
natura nos a scelere abhorrere, quod nulli non etiam 
inter tuta timor est. Multos fortuna liberat poena, 

16 metu neminem. Quare nisi quia infixa nobis eius 
rei aversatio est, quam natura damnavit ? Ideo 
numquam fides latendi fit etiam latentibus, quia 
coarguit illos conscientia et ipsos sibi ostendit. Pro- 
prium autem est nocentium trepidare. Male de 
nobis actum erat, quod multa scelera legem et 
vindicem effugiunt et scripta supplicia, nisi ilia 
naturalia et gravia de praesentibus solverent et in 
locum patientiae timor cederet. Vale. 

* est Epicure cod. Ye^?.. ; Epicuri est B ; Epicure A. 

" i.e.. Nature is not long-suffering, but makes them afraid 
at once. But Prof. Capps prefers : " Were it not that those 



since the punishment of crime hes in the crime itself. 
But none the less do these second penalties press 
close upon the heels of the first — constant fear, 
constant terror, and distrust in one's own security. 

Why, then, should I set wickedness free from such 
a punishment ? Why should I not always leave it 
trembling in the balance ? Let us disagree with 
Epicurus on the one point, when he declares that 
there is no natural justice, and that crime should 
be avoided because one cannot escape the fear which 
results therefrom ; let us agree with him on the 
other — that bad deeds are lashed by the whip of 
conscience, and that conscience is tortured to the 
greatest degree because unending anxiety drives 
and whips it on, and it cannot rely upon the guarantors 
of its own peace of mind. For this, Epicurus, is the 
very proof that we are by nature reluctant to commit 
crime, because even in circumstances of safety there 
is no one who does not feel fear. Good luck frees 
many men from punishment, but no man from fear. 
And why should this be if it were not that we have 
ingrained in us a loathing for that which Nature has 
condemned ? Hence even men who hide their sins 
can never count upon remaining hidden ; for their 
conscience convicts them and reveals them to them- 
selves. But it is the property of guilt to be in fear. 
It had gone ill with us, owing to the many crimes 
which escape the vengeance of the law and the 
prescribed punishments, were it not that bad men 
pay Nature's heavy penalties in ready money, and 
that in place of tolerance comes fear,<» Farewell. 

grievous oiFences against Nature must pay the penalty in 
ready money, and that in place of suffering the punishment 
comes fear." 



Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Numquam credideris felicem quemquam ex felici- 
tate suspensum. Fragilibus innititur, qui adventicio 
laetus est ; exibit gaudium, quod intravit. At illud 
ex se ortum fidele firmumque est et crescit et ad 
extremum usque prosequitur ; cetera, quorum ad- 
miratio est vulgo, in diem bona sunt. " Quid ergo ? 
Non usui ac voluptati esse possunt ? " Quis negat ? 
Sed ita, si ilia ex nobis pendent, non ex illis nos. 

2 Omnia, quae fortuna intuetur, ita fructifera ac 
iucunda fiunt, si qui habet ilia, se quoque habet 
nee in rerum suarum potestate est. Errant enim, 
Lucili, qui aut boni aliquid nobis aut malum iudicant 
tribuere fortunam ; materiam dat bonorum ac ma- 
lorum et initia rerum apud nos in malum bonumve 
exiturarum. Valentior enim omni fortuna animus 
est et in utramque partem ipse res suas ducit beatae- 
que ac miserae vitae sibi causa est. 

3 Malus omnia in malum vertit, etiam quae cum 
specie optimi venerant ; rectus atque integer corrigit 
prava fortunae et dura atque aspera ferendi scientia 
mollit, idemque et secunda grate excipit modesteque 

" Compare the ^x*^ "^^' ""^"^ i^ofxai of Aristippus, and the 
(equally Epicurean) viihi res, non me rebus subiungere of 
Horace, Epp. i. 1. 19. 



You need never believe that anyone who depends 
upon happiness is happy ! It is a fragile support — 
this delight in adventitious things ; the joy which 
entered from without will some day depart. But 
that joy which springs wholly from oneself is leal 
and sound ; it increases and attends us to the last ; 
while all other things which provoke the admiration 
of the crowd are but temporary Goods. You may 
reply : " What do you mean ? Cannot such things 
serve both for utility and for delight ? " Of course. 
But only if they depend on us, and not we on them. 
All things that Fortune looks upon become produc- 
tive and pleasant, only if he who possesses them is in 
possession also of himself, and is not in the power of 
that which belongs to him." For men make a mis- 
take, my dear Lucilius, if they hold that anything 
good, or evil either, is bestowed upon us by Fortune ; 
it is simply the raw material of Goods and Ills that she 
gives to us — the sources of things which, in our keep- 
ing, will develop into good or ill. For the soul is more 
powerful than any sort of Fortune ; by its own 
agency it guides its affairs in either direction, and 
of its own power it can produce a happy life, or a 
wretched one. 

A bad man makes everything bad — even things 
which had come with the appearance of what is best ; 
but the upright and honest man corrects the wrongs 
of Fortune, and softens hardship and bitterness 
because he knows how to endure them ; he likewise 
accepts prosperity with appreciation and moderation, 
and stands up against trouble with steadiness and 


•the epistles of SENECA 

et adversa constanter ac fortiter. Qui licet prudens 
sit, licet exacto faciat cuncta iudicio, licet nihil supra 
vires suas temptet, non continget illi bonum illud 
integrum et extra minas positum, nisi certus adversus 

4 incerta est. Sive alios observare voliieris — ^liberius 
enim inter aliena iudicium est, sive te ipsum favore 
seposito — et senties hoc et confiteberis, nihil ex his 
optabilibus et caris utile esse, nisi te contra levitatem 
casus rerumque casum sequentium instruxeris, nisi 
illud frequenter et sine querella inter singula damna 

5 dixeris : " dis aliter visum est." Immo mehercules 
ut carmen fortius ac iustius petam, quo animum 
tuum magis fulcias, hoc dicito, quotiens aliquid aliter 
quam cogitabas evenerit : " di melius." 

Sic composito nihil accidet. Sic autem conponetur, 
si, quid humanarum rerum varietas possit, cogitaverit, 
antequam senserit, si et hberos et coniugem et 
patrimonium sic habuerit tamquam non utique 
semper habiturus et tamquam non futurus ob hoc 
miserior, si habere desierit. Calamitosus est animus 
6 futuri anxius et ante miserias miser, qui sollicitus est, 
ut ea, quibus delectatur, ad extremum usque per- 
maneant. NuUo enim tempore conquiescet et ex- 
pectatione venturi praesentia, quibus frui poterat, 

" Vergil, Aen. ii. 428. 


courage. Though a man be prudent, though he 
conduct all his interests with well-balanced judg- 
ment, though he attempt nothing beyond his strength, 
he will not attain the Good which is unalloyed and 
beyond the reach of threats, unless he is sure in 
deaHng with that which is unsure. For whether you 
prefer to observe other men (and it is easier to make 
up one's mind when judging the affairs of others), 
or whether you observe yourself, with all prejudice 
laid aside, you will perceive and acknowledge that 
there is no utility in all these desirable and beloved 
things, unless you equip yourself in opposition to 
the fickleness of chance and its consequences, and 
unless you repeat to yourself often and uncomplain- 
ingly, at every mishap, the words : " Heaven 
decreed it otherwise ! " * Nay rather, to adopt a 
phrase which is braver and nearer the truth — 
one on which you may more safely prop your 
spirit — say to yourself, whenever things turn out 
contrary to your expectation : " Heaven decreed 
better ! " 

If you are thus poised, nothing will affect you ; 
and a man will be thus poised if he reflects on the 
possible ups and downs in human affairs before he 
feels their force, and if he comes to regard children, 
or wife, or property, with the idea that he will not 
necessarily possess them always and that he will not 
be any more wretched just because he ceases to 
possess them. It is tragic for the soul to be appre- 
hensive of the future and wretched in anticipation 
of wretchedness, consumed with an anxious desire 
that the objects which give pleasure may remain 
in its possession to the very end. For such a soul 
will never be at rest ; in waiting for the future it will 
lose the present blessings which it might enjoy. And 



amittet. In aequo est autem amissae rei miseratio ^ 
et timor amittendae. 

7 Nee ideo praecipio tibi neglegentiara. Tu vero 
metuenda declina. Quidquid consilio prospici potest, 
prospice. Quodcumque laesurum est, multo ante 
quam accidat, speculare et averte. In hoc ipsum 
tibi plurimum conferet fiducia et ad tolerandum 
omne obfirmata mens. Potest fortunam caver e, qui 
potest ferre. Certe in tranquillo non tumultuatur. 
Nihil est nee miserius nee stultius quam praetimere. 
Quae ista dementia est nxalum suum antecedere ? 

8 Denique ut breviter includam quod sentio, et istos 
satagios ac sibi molestos describam tibi, tam intem- 
perantes in ipsis miseriis quam sunt ante illas. Plus 
dolet quam necesse est, qui ante dolet quam necesse 
est ; eadem enim infirmitate dolorem non aestimat, 
qua non exspectat ; eadem intemperantia fingit sibi 
perpetuam felicitatem suam, fingit crescere debere 
quaecumque contigerunt, non tantum durare ; et 
oblitus huius petauri, quo humana iactantur, sibi uni 
fortuitorum constantiam spondet. 

9 Egregie itaque videtur mihi Metrodorus dixisse in 
ea epistula, qua sororem amisso optimae indolis filio 
adloquitur : " mortale est omne mortalium bonum." 
De his loquitur bonis, ad quae concurritur. Nam 
illud verum bonum non moritur, certum est sempiter- 
numque, sapientia et virtus ; hoc unum contingit 

^ miseratio added by Buecheler. 

" i.e., a sort of platform for mountebanks or acrobats, — 
figuratively applied to life's Vanity Fair. 
» Frag. 35 Korte. 



there is no difference between grief for something 
lost and the fear of losing it. 

But I do not for this reason advise you to be in- 
different. Rather do you turn aside from you what- 
ever may cause fear. Be sure to foresee whatever 
can be foreseen by planning. Observe and avoid, 
long before it happens, anything that is likely to do 
you harm. To effect this your best assistance will 
be a spirit of confidence and a mind strongly resolved 
to endure all things. He who can bear Fortune, can 
also beware of Fortune. At any rate, there is no 
dashing of billows when the sea is calm. And there 
is nothing more wretched or foolish than premature 
fear. What madness it is to anticipate one's troubles ! 
In fine, to express my thoughts in brief compass and 
portray to you those busybodies and self-tormentors 
— they are as uncontrolled in the midst of their 
troubles as they are before them. He suffers more 
than is necessary, who suffers before it is necessary ; 
such men do not weigh the amount of their suffering, 
by reason of the same failing which prevents them 
from being ready for it ; and with the same lack of 
restraint they fondly imagine that their luck will 
last for ever, and fondly imagine that their gains are 
bound to increase as well as merely continue. They 
forget this spring-board " on which mortal things are 
tossed, and they guarantee for themselves exclusively 
a steady continuance of the gifts of chance. 

For this very reason I regard as excellent the 
saying * of Metrodorus, in a letter of consolation to 
his sister on the loss of her son, a lad of great promise : 
" All the Good of mortals is mortal." He is referring 
to those Goods towards which men rush in shoals. 
For the real Good does not perish ; it is certain and 
lasting, and it consists of wisdom and virtue ; it is 



10 inmortale mortalibus. Ceterum tain inprobi sunt 
tamque obliti, quo eant, quo illos singuli dies turbent, 
ut mirentur aliquid ipsos amittere amissuri uno die 
omnia. Quicquid est, dominus inscriberis, apud te 
est, tuum non est ; nihil firmum infirmo, nihil fragih 
aeternum et invictum est. Tarn necesse est perire 
quam perdere, et hoc ipsum, si intellegimus, solacium 
est. Aequo animo perde, pereundum ^ est. 

11 Quid ergo adversus has amissiones auxili inveni- 
mus ? Hoc, ut memoria teneamus amissa nee cum 
ipsis fructum excidere patiamur, quem ex ilhs per- 
cepimus. Habere eripitur, habuisse numquam. Per- 
ingratus est, qui cum amisit, pro accepto nihil debet. 
Rem nobis eripit casus, usum ^ fructumque apud nos 
relinquit, quem nos iniquitate desiderii perdidimus. 

12 Die tibi : " Ex istis, quae terribilia videntur, nihil est 
invictum. Singula vicere lam multi : ignem Mucius, 
crucem Regulus, venenum Socrates, exihum Rutilius, 
mortem ferro adactam Cato ; et nos vincamus ah quid." 

13 Rursus ista, quae ut ^ speciosa et felicia trahunt 

vulgum, a multis et saepe contempta sunt. Fabricius 

divitias imperator reiecit, censor notavit. Tubero 

^ perde, pereundum Madvig ; perdere pereundum BA. 

2 usum later MSS. ; usus BA. 

3 ista quae ut later MSS. ; ita quae vis BA. 



the only immortal thing that falls to mortal lot. But 
men are so wayward, and so forgetful of their goal 
and of the point toward which every day jostles 
them, that they are surprised at losing anything, 
although some day they are bound to lose every- 
thing. Anything of which you are entitled the 
owner is in your possession but is not your own ; 
for there is no strength in that which is weak, nor 
anything lasting and invincible in that which is frail. 
We must lose our lives as surely as we lose our 
property, and this, if we understand the truth, is 
itself a consolation. Lose it with equanimity; for 
you must lose your life also. 

What resource do we find, then, in the face of 
these losses ? Simply this — to keep in memory the 
things we have lost, and not to suffer the enjoyment 
which we have derived from them to pass away along 
with them. To have may be taken from us, to have 
had, never. A man is thankless in the highest 
degree if, after losing something, he feels no obliga- 
tion for having received it. Chance robs us of the 
thing, but leaves us its use and its enjoyment— and 
we have lost this if we are so unfair as to regret. 
Just say to yourself : "Of all these experiences that 
seem so frightful, none is insuperable. Separate 
trials have been overcome by many : fire by Mucius, 
crucifixion by Regulus, poison by Socrates, exile by 
Rutilius, and a sword-inflicted death by Cato ; 
therefore, let us also overcome something." Again, 
those objects which attract the crowd under the 
appearance of beauty and happiness, have been 
scorned by many men and on many occasions. 
Fabricius when he was general refused riches," and 
when he was censor branded them with disapproval. 

" i.e., when he declined the bribe of Pyrrhus, 280 b.c. 



paupertatem et se dignam et Capitolio iudicavit, cum 
fictilibus in publica cena usus ostendit debere iis 
hominem esse contentum, quibus di etiamnunc 
uterentur, Honores reppulit pater Sextius, qui ita 
natus, ut rem publicam deberet capessere, latum 
clavum divo lulio dante non recepit. Intellegebat 
enim quod dari posset, et eripi posse. 

Nos quoque aliquid et ipsi faciamus animose ; simus 

14 inter exempla. Quare defecimus ? Quare de- 
speramus ? Quiequid fieri potuit, potest, nos modo 
purgemus animum sequamurque naturam, a qua 
aberranti cupiendum timendumque est et fortuitis 
serviendum. Licet reverti in viam, licet in integrum 
restitui ; restituamur, ut possimus dolores, quocura- 
que modo corpus invaserint, perferre et fortunae 
dicer e : " cum viro tibi negotium est ; quaere, quern 

15 His sermonibus ^ et his similibus lenitur ilia vis 
ulceris, quam opto mehercules mitigari et aut sanari 
aut stare et cum ipso senescere. Sed securus de illo 
sum ; de nostro damno agitur, quibus senex egregius 
eripitur. Nam ipse vitae plenus est, cui adici nihil 
desiderat sua causa, sed eorum, quibus utilis est. 

16 Liberaliterfacit,quodvivit. Alius iam hos ^ cruciatus 

^ The testimony of an ancient grammarian, and the change 
of subject in the text, may, as Hense states, indicate that a 
considerable passage is lost and that another letter begins 
here. Cf. the senex egregius of § 15. 

2 hos later MSS. ; his BA. 

" Cf. Ep. xcv. 72 f. omnibus saeculis Tuberonis fictilia 

' Cf. Ep. lix. 7 and note 6 (vol. i.). 



Tubero deemed poverty worthy both of himself and 
of the deity on the Capitol when, by the use of 
earthenware dishes at a public festival, he showed 
that man should be satisfied with that which the 
gods could still use.** The elder Sextius rejected 
the honours of office ; ^ he was born with an obliga- 
tion to take part in public affairs, and yet would not 
accept the broad stripe even when the deified Julius 
offered it to him. For he understood that what can 
be given can also be taken away. 

Let us also, therefore, carry out some courageous 
act of our own accord ; let us be included among the 
ideal types of history. Why have we been slack ? 
Why do we lose heart ? That which could be done, 
can be done, if only we purify our souls and follow 
Nature ; for when one strays away from Nature one 
is compelled to crave, and fear, and be a slave to the 
things of chance. We may return to the true path ; 
we may be restored to our proper state ; let us 
therefore be so, in order that we may be able to 
endure pain, in whatever form it attacks our bodies, 
and say to Fortune : " You have to deal with a man ; 
seek someone whom you can conquer ! " 

By these words, and words of a like kind, the 
malignity of the ulcer is quieted down ; and I hope 
indeed that it can be reduced, and either cured or 
brought to a stop, and grow old along with the 
patient himself. I am, however, comfortable in my 
mind regarding him ; what we are now discussing is 
our own loss — the taking-off of a most excellent old 
man. For he himself has lived a full life, and any- 
thing additional may be craved by him, not for his 
own sake, but for the sake of those who need his 
services. In continuing to live, he deals generously. 
Some other person might have put an end to these 



finisset ^ ; hie tam turpe putat mortem fugere quam 
ad mortem confugere. " Quid ergo ? Non, si suade- 
bit res, exibit ? " Quidni exeat, si nemo iam uti eo 
poterit ? Si nihil ahud quam dolori operam dabit ? 

17 Hoc est, mi Lucili, philosophiam in opere discere et 
ad verum exerceri : videre, quid homo prudens 
animi habeat contra mortem, contra dolorem, cum 
ilia accedat, hie premat. Quid faciendum sit, a 
faciente discendum est. Adhuc argumentis actum 
est, an posset aliqui dolori resistere, an mors magnos 

18 quoque animos admota summittere. Quid opus est 
verbis ? In rem praesentem eamus : nee mors ilium 
contra dolorem facit fortiorem nee dolor contra 
mortem. Contra utrumque sibi fidit nee spe mortis 
patienter dolet nee taedio doloris libentur moritur ; 
hunc fert, illam expectat. Vale, 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

Epistulam, quam scripsi MaruUo, cum filium par- 
vulum amisisset et diceretur molliter ferre, misi tibi, 
in qua non sum solitum morem secutus nee putavi 
leniter ilium debere tractari, cum obiurgatione esset 
quam solacio dignior, Adflicto enim et magnum 
vulnus male ferenti paulisper cedendum est ; exsatiet 
^ finisset later MSS. ; finis est BA. 

" Possibly Junius Marullus, consul designatus in a.d. 62 
(Tac. Ann. xiv. 48). 


sufferings ; but our friend considers it no less base to 
flee from death than to flee towards death. " But," 
comes the answer, " if circumstances warrant, shall 
he not take his departure ? " Of course, if he can 
no longer be of service to anyone, if all his business 
will be to deal with pain. This, my dear Lucilius, 
is what we mean by studying philosophy while apply- 
ing it, by practising it on truth — to note what 
courage a prudent man possesses against death, or 
against pain, when the one approaches and the other 
weighs heavily. What ought to be done must be 
learned from one who does it. Up to now we have 
dealt with arguments — whether any man can resist 
pain, or whether the approach of death can cast 
down even great souls. Why discuss it further ? 
Here is an immediate fact for us to tackle — death 
does not make our friend braver to face pain, nor pain 
to face death. Rather does he trust himself in the 
face of both ; he does not suffer with resignation 
because he hopes for death, nor does he die gladly 
because he is tired of suffering. Pain he endures, 
death he awaits. Farewell. 


I enclose a copy of the letter which I wrote to 
Marullus « at the time when he had lost his little son 
and was reported to be rather womanish in his grief — 
a letter in which I have not observed the usual form 
of condolence : for I did not believe that he should 
be handled gently, since in my opinion he deserved 
criticism rather than consolation. When a man is 
stricken and is finding it most difficult to endure a 
grievous wound, one must humour him for a while ; 

VOL. Ill K 1 29 


se aut certe primum impetum effundat ; hi, qui sibi 
lugere sumpserunt, protinus castigentur et discant 
quasdam etiam lacrimarum ineptias esse. 

2 " Solacia expectas ? Convicia accipe. Mollitertu 
fers mortem filii ; quid faceres, si amicum perdidisses ? 
Decessit filius incertae spei, parvulus ; pusillum tem- 

3 poris periit. Causas doloris conquirimus et de for- 
tuna etiam inique queri volumus, quasi non sit iustas 
querendi causas praebitura. At mehercules satis 
mihi iam videbaris animi habere etiam adversus 
sohda mala, nedum ad istas umbras malorum, quibus 
ingemescunt homines moris causa. Quod damnorum 
omnium maximum est, si amicum perdidisses, danda 
opera erat, ut magis gauderes, quod habueras, quam 
maereres, quod amiseras. 

4 " Sed plerique non computant, quanta perceperint, 
quantum gavisi sint. Hoc habet inter reliqua mali 
dolor iste : non supervacuus tantum, sed ingratus 
est. Ergo quod habuisti talem amicum, periit opera? 
Tot annis, tanta coniunctione vitae, tam familiari 
studiorum societate nil actum est ? Cum amico 
efFers amicitiam ? Et quid doles amisisse, si habuisse 
non prodest ? Mihi crede, magna pars ex iis, quos 
amavimus, licet ipsos casus abstulerit, apud nos manet. 
Nostrum est, quod praeteriit, tempus nee quicquam 

5 est loco tutiore quam quod fuit. Ingrati adversus 

" As Lipsius pointed out, the remainder of Seneca's letter 
consists of the quoted epistle to Marullus. 

* The Roman view differs from the modern view, just as 
this liCtter is rather more severe than Ep. Ixiii. (on the death 
of Lucilius's friend Flaccus). 



let him satisfy his grief or at any rate work off the 
first shock ; but those who have set themselves to 
make lamentation should be rebuked forthwith, and 
should learn that there are certain follies even in 

*• " Is it solace that you look for ? Let me give 
you a scolding instead ! You are like a woman in 
the way you take your son's death ; what would you 
do if you had lost an intimate friend ? A son, a 
little child of unknown promise, is dead ; a fragment 
of time has been lost. We hunt out excuses for 
grief ; we would even utter unfair complaints about 
Fortune, as if Fortune would never give us just 
reason for complaining ! But I had really thought 
that you possessed spirit enough to deal with concrete 
troubles, to say nothing of the shadowy troubles over 
which men make moan through force of habit. Had 
you lost a friend (which is the greatest blow of all),'' 
you would have had to endeavour rather to rejoice 
because you had possessed him than to mourn 
because you had lost him. 

" But many men fail to count up how manifold 
their gains have been, how great their rejoicings. 
Grief like yours has this among other evils : it is 
not only useless, but thankless. Has it then all been 
for nothing that you have had such a friend ? During 
so many years, amid such close associations, after 
such intimate communion of personal interests, has 
nothing been accomplished ? Do you bury friend- 
ship along with a friend ? And why lament having 
lost him, if it be of no avail to have possessed him ? 
Believe me, a great part of those we have loved, 
though chance has removed their persons, still abides 
with us. The past is ours, and there is nothing more 
secure for us than that which has been. We are 



percepta spe futuri sumus, quasi non quod futurum 
est, si modo successerit nobis, cito in praeterita 
transiturum sit. Anguste fructus rerum determinat, 
qui tantum praesentibus laetus est ; et futura et 
praeterita delectant, haec exspectatione, ilia me- 
moria, sed alterum pendet et non fieri potest, 
alterum non potest non fuisse. 

" Quis ergo furor est certissimo excidere ? Ad- 
quiescamus iis, quae iam hausimus, si modo non per- 
forate animo hauriebamus et transmittente quicquid 

6 acceperat. Innumerabilia sunt exempla eorum, qui 
liberos iuvenes sine lacrimis extulerint, qui in sena- 
tum aut in aliquod publicum officium a rogo redierint 
et statim aliud egerint. Nee inmerito ; nam primum 
supervacuum est dolere, si nihil dolendo proficias. 
Deinde iniquum est queri de eo, quod uni accidit, 
omnibus restat. Deinde desiderii stulta conquestio 
est, ubi minimum interest inter amissum et desideran- 
tem. Eo itaque aequiore animo esse debemus, quod 
quos amisimus, sequimur. 

7 " Respice celeritatem rapidissimi temporis, cog;ita 
brevitatem huius spatii, per quod citatissimi currimus, 
observa hunc comitatum generis humani eodem 
tendentis minimis intervallis distinctum, etiam ubi 
maxima videntur ; quern putas perisse, praemissus 
est. Quid autem dementius quam, cum idem tibi 

" Almost identical language with the closing words of 
Ep. Ixiii. : quern putamus perisse, praemissus est. 



ungrateful for past gains, because we hope for the 
future, as if the future — if so be that any future is 
ours — will not be quickly blended with the past. 
People set a narrow limit to their enjoyments if 
they take pleasure only in the present ; both the 
future and the past serve for our delight — the one 
with anticipation, and the other with memories — 
but the one is contingent and rnay not come to 
pass, while the other must have been. 

" What madness it is, therefore, to lose our grip 
on that which is the surest thing of all ? Let us rest 
content with the pleasures we have quaffed in past 
days, if only, while we quaffed them, the soul was 
not pierced like a sieve, only to lose again whatever 
it had received. There are countless cases of men 
who have without tears buried sons in the prime of 
manhood — men who have returned from the funeral 
pyre to the Senate chamber, or to any other official 
duties, and have straightway busied themselves with 
something else. And rightly ; for in the first place 
it is idle to grieve if you get no help from grief. In 
the second place, it is unfair to complain about what 
has happened to one man but is in store for all. 
Again, it is foolish to lament one's loss, when there 
is such a slight interval between the lost and the loser. 
Hence we should be more resigned in spirit, because 
we follow closely those whom we have lost. 

" Note the rapidity of Time — that swiftest of 
things ; consider the shortness of the course along 
which we hasten at top speed ; mark this throng of 
humanity, all straining toward the same point with 
briefest intervals between them — even when they 
seem longest ; he whom you count as passed away 
has simply posted on ahead." And what is more 
irrational than to bewail your predecessor, when 



iter emetiendum sit, flere eum, qui antecessit ? Flet 
aliquis factum, quod non ignoravit futurum ? Aut 

8 si mortem in homine non cogitavit, sibi inposuit. 
Flet aliquis factum, quod aiebat non posse non fieri ? 
Quisquis aliquem queritur mortuum esse, queritur ^ 
hominem fuisse. Omnis eadem condicio devinxit : cui 

9 nasci contigit, mori restat. Intervallis distinguimur, 
exitu aequamur. Hoc quod inter primum diem et 
ultimum iacet, varium incertum!que est : si molestias 
aestimes, etiam puero longum, si velocitatem, etiam 
seni angustum. Nihil non lubricum et fallax et 
omni tempestate mobilius.^ lactantur cuncta et in 
contrarium transeunt iubente fortuna, et in tanta 
volutatione rerum humanarum nihil cuiquam nisi 
mors certum est. Tamen de eo queruntur omnes, 
in quo uno nemo decipitur. ' Sed puer decessit.' 
Nondum dico melius agi cum eo, qui cito ^ vita 
defungitur ; ad eum transeamus, qui consenuit. 

10 Quantulo vincit infantem ! Propone temporis pro- 
fundi vastitatem et universum complectere, deinde 
hoc, quod aetatem vocamus humanam, conpara im- 
menso ; videbis, quam exiguum sit, quod optamus, 
quod extendimus. Ex hoc quantum lacrimae, qu an- 
il tum solhcitudines occupant ! Quantum mors, ante- 
quam veniat, optata, quantum valitudo, quantum 
timor ! Quantum tenent aut rudes aut inutiles 

^ mortuum esse queritur later MSS. : om. by B and A*. 

* mobilius later MSS. ; mohilibus BA. 

* cito added by Gertz. 



you yourself must travel on the same journey ? 
Does a man bewail an event which he knew would 
take place ? Or, if he did not think of death as 
man's lot, he has but cheated himself. Does a man 
bewail an event which he has been admitting to be 
unavoidable ? Whoever complains about the death 
of anyone, is complaining that he was a man. 
Everyone is bound by the same terms : he who is 
privileged to be born, is destined to die. Periods of 
time separate us, but death levels us. The period 
which lies between our first day and our last is shift- 
ing and uncertain : if you reckon it by its troubles, 
it is long even to a lad, if by its speed, it is scanty 
even to a greybeard. Everything is slippery, 
treacherous, and more shifting than any weather. 
All things are tossed about and shift into their 
opposites at the bidding of Fortune ; amid such a 
turmoil of mortal affairs nothing but death is surely 
in store for anyone. And yet all men complain about 
the one thing wherein none of them is deceived. 
' But he died in boyhood.' I am not yet prepared 
to say that he who quickly comes to the end of his 
life has the better of the bargain ; let us turn to 
consider the case of him who has grown to old age. 
How very little is he superior to the child ! "■ Place 
before your mind's eye the vast spread of time's 
abyss, and consider the universe ; and then contrast 
our so-called human life with infinity : you will then 
see how scant is that for which we pray, and which 
we seek to lengthen. How much of this time is 
taken up with weeping, how much with worry ! How 
much with prayers for death before death arrives, 
how much with our health, how much with our fears ! 
How much is occupied by our years of inexperience 
" For a similar argument see Ep. xii. 6 f. 



anni ! Dimidium ex hoc edormitur. Adice labores, 
luctus, pericula, et intelleges etiam in longissima 

12 vita minimum esse, quod vivitur. Sed quis tibi con- 
cedet non melius se habere eum, cui cito reverti licet, 
cui ante lassitudinem peractum est iter ? Vita nee 
bonum nee malum est ; boni ac mali locus est. Ita 
nihil ille perdidit nisi aleam in damnum certiorem. 
Potuit evadere modestus et prudens, potuit sub cura 
tua in meliora formari, sed, quod iustius timetur, 

13 potuit fieri pluribus similis. Aspice illos iuvenes, 
quos ex nobilissimis domibus in harenam luxuria 
proiecit ; aspice illos, qui suam alienamque libidinem 
exercent mutuo inpudici, quorum nullus sine ebrie- 
tate, nullus sine aliquo insigni flagitio dies exit ; plus 
timeri quam sperari potuisse manifestum erit. 

"Non debes itaque causas doloris accersere nee 

14 levia incommoda indignando cumulare. Non hortor, 
ut nitaris et surgas ; non tam male de te iudico, ut 
tibi adversus hoc totam putem virtutem advocandam. 
Non est dolor iste, sed morsus ; tu ilium dolorem 

" Sine dubio multum philosophia profecit, si puerum 
nutrici adhuc quam patri notiorem animo forti 

15 desideras. Quid ? Nunc ego duritiam suadeo et in 

" i.e., who have had to turn gladiators. 


or of useless endeavour ! And half of all this time 
is wasted in sleeping. Add, besides, our toils, our 
griefs, our dangers — and you will comprehend that 
even in the longest hfe real living is the least 
portion thereof. Nevertheless, who will make such 
an admission as : 'A man is not better off who is 
allowed to return home quickly, whose journey is 
accomplished before he is wearied out ' ? Life is 
neither a Good nor an Evil ; it is simply the place 
where good and evil exist. Hence this little boy 
has lost nothing except a hazard where loss was 
more assured than gain. He might have turned 
out temperate and prudent ; he might, with your 
fostering care, have been moulded to a better 
standard ; but (and this fear is more reasonable) 
he might have become just like the many. Note 
the youths of the noblest lineage whose extravagance 
has flung them into the arena « ; note those men who 
cater to the passions of themselves and others in 
mutual lust, whose days never pass without drunken- 
ness or some signal act of shame ; it will thus be clear 
to you that there was more to fear than to hope for. 

" For this reason you ought not to invite excuses 
for grief or aggravate slight burdens by getting 
indignant. I am not exhorting you to make an 
effort and rise to great heights ; for my opinion 
of you is not so low as to make me think that 
it is necessary for you to summon every bit of your 
virtue to face this trouble. Yours is not pain ; it 
is a mere sting — and it is you yourself who are 
turning it into pain. 

" Of a surety philosophy has done you much 
service if you can bear courageously the loss of a boy 
who was as yet better known to his nurse than to his 
father ! And what, then ? Now, at this time, am I 



funere ipso rigere vultum volo et animuni ne contrahi 
quidem patior ? Minime. Inhumanitas est ista, non 
virtus, funera suorum isdem oculis, quibus ipsos, 
videre nee commoveri ad primam familiarium divul- 
sionem. Puta autem me vetare ; quaedam sunt sui 
iuris. Excidunt etiam retinentibus lacrimae et 

16 animum profusae levant. Quid ergo est ? Per- 
mittamus illis cadere, non imperemus ; fluat, quan- 
tum adfectus eiecerit, non quantum poscet imitatio. 
Nihil vero maerori adiciamus nee ilium ad alienum 
augeamus exemplum. Plus ostentatio doloris exigit 
quam dolor : quotus quisque sibi tristis est ! Clarius, 
cum audiuntur, gemunt et taciti quietique dum 
secretum est, cum aliquos videre, in fletus novos 
excitantur. Tunc capiti suo manus ingerunt, quod 
potuerant facere nuUo prohibente liberius, tunc 
mortem comprecantur sibi, tunc lectulo devolvuntur ; 

17 sine spectatore cessat dolor. Sequitur nos ut in aliis 
rebus, ita in hac quoque hoc vitium, ad plurium 
exempla componi nee quid oporteat, sed quid soleat, 
aspicere. A natura discedimus, populo nos damus 
nuUius rei bono auctori et in hac re sicut in aliis ^ 
omnibus inconstantissimo. Videt aliquem fortem in 

^ aliis Hermes ; his MSS. 


advising you to be hard-hearted, desiring you to 
keep your countenance unmoved at the very funeral 
ceremony, and not allowing even your soul to feel 
the pinch of pain ? By no means. That would mean 
lack of feeling rather than virtue — to behold the 
burial ceremonies of those near and dear to you with 
the same expression as you beheld their living forms, 
and to show no emotion over the first bereavement in 
your family. But suppose that I forbade you to show 
emotion ; there are certain feelings which claim 
their own rights. Tears fall, no matter how we try 
to check them, and by being shed they ease the soul. 
What, then, shall we do ? Let us allow them to fall, 
but let us not command them do so ; let us weep 
according as emotion floods our eyes, but not as much 
as mere imitation shall demand. Let us, indeed, 
add nothing to natural grief, nor augment it by 
following the example of others. The display of 
grief makes more demands than grief itself : how 
few men are sad in their own company ! They lament 
the louder for being heard ; persons who are reserved 
and silent when alone are stirred to new paroxysms 
of tears when they behold others near them ! At 
such times they lay violent hands upon their own 
persons, — though they might have done this more 
easily if no one were present to check them ; at such 
times they pray for death ; at such times they toss 
themselves from their couches. But their grief 
slackens with the departure of onlookers. In this 
matter, as in others also, we are obsessed by this 
fault — conforming to the pattern of the many, and 
regarding convention rather than duty. We abandon 
nature and surrender to the mob — who are never 
good advisers in anything, and in this respect as in 
all others are most inconsistent. People see a man 



luctu suo : impium vocat et efFeratum ; videt aliquem 
conlabentem et corpori adfusum : eiFeminatum ait 

18 et enervem. Omnia itaque ad rationem revocanda 
sunt. Stultius vero nihil est quam famam captare 
tristitiae et lacrimas adprobare, quas iudico sapienti 
viro alias permissas cadere, alias vi sua latas. 

'' Dicam quid intersit. Cum primus nos nuntius 
acerbi funeris perculit, cum tenemus corpus e com- 
plexu nostro in ignem transiturum, lacrimas naturalis 
necessitas exprimit et spiritus ictu doloris inpulsus 
quemadmodum totum corpus quatit, ita oculos, quibus 

19 adiacentem umorem perpremit et expellit. Hae 
lacrimae per elisionem cadunt nolentibus nobis ; aliae 
sunt, quibus exitum damus, cum memoria eorum, quos 
amisimus, retractatur. Et inest quiddam dulce tris- 
titiae, cum occurrunt sermones eorum iucundi, con- 
versatio hilaris, officiosa pietas ; tunc oculi velut in 
gaudio relaxantur. His indulgemus, illis vincimur. 

20 " Non est itaque, quod lacrimas propter circulum 
adstantem^ adsidentemque aut contineas aut ex- 
primas ; nee cessant nee fluunt umquam tam turpiter 
quam finguntur ; eant sua sponte. Ire autem pos- 

• sunt placidis atque compositis. Saepe salva sapientis 
auctoritate fluxerunt tanto temperamento, ut illis 
nee humanitas nee dignitas deesset. Licet, inquara, 

^ circulum adstantem Rossbach ; circum stantem A. 


who bears his grief bravely : they call him undutiful 
and savage-hearted ; they see a man who collapses 
and clings to his dead : they call him womanish and 
weak. Everything, therefore, should be referred to 
reason. But nothing is more foolish than to court 
a reputation for sadness and to sanction tears ; for 
I hold that with a wise man some tears fall by 
consent, others by their own force. 

" I shall explain the difference as follows : When 
the first news of some bitter loss has shocked 
us, when we embrace the form that will soon pass 
from our arms to the funeral flames — then tears 
are wrung from us by the necessity of Nature, and 
the hfe-force, smitten by the stroke of grief, shakes 
both the whole body, and the eyes also, from which 
it presses out and causes to flow tlie moisture that 
lies within. Tears like these fall by a forcing-out 
process, against our will ; but different are the tears 
which we allow to escape when we muse in memory 
upon those whom we have lost. And there is in 
them a certain sweet sadness when we remember 
the sound of a pleasant voice, a genial conversation, 
and the busy duties of yore ; at such a time the 
eyes are loosened, as it were, with joy. This sort of 
weeping we indulge ; the former sort overcomes us. 

" There is, then, no reason why, just because a 
group of persons is standing in your presence or 
sitting at your side, you should either check or pour 
forth your tears ; whether restrained or outpoured, 
they are never so disgraceful as when feigned. Let 
them flow naturally. But it is possible for tears to 
flow from the eyes of those who are quiet and at 
peace. They often flow without impairing the 
influence of the wise man — with such restraint that 
they show no want either of feeling or of self-respect. 



21 naturae obsequi gravitate servata. Vidi ego in 
funere suorum verendos, in quorum ore amor emine- 
bat remota omni lugentium scaena, nihil erat nisi 
quod veris dabatur adfectibus. Est aliquis et dolendi 
decor ; hie sapienti servandus est et quemadmodum 
in ceteris rebus, ita etiam in lacrimis aliquid sat est ; 
inprudentium ^ ut gaudia sic dolores exundavere. 

22 " Aequo animo excipe necessaria. Quid incredibile, 
quid novum evenit ? Quam multis cum maxime 
funus locatur, quam multis vitalia emuntur, quam 
multi post luctum tuum lugent ! Quotiens cogita- 
veris puerum fuisse, cogita et hominem, cui nihil certi 
promittitur, quem fortuna non utique perducit ad 

23 senectutem ; unde visum est, dimittit. Ceterum 
frequenter de illo loquere et memoriam eius, quantum 
potes, celebra. Quae ad te saepius revertetur, si erit 
sine acerbitate ^ ventura ; nemo enim libenter tristi 
conversatur, nedum tristitiae. Si quos sermones eius, 
si quos quamvis parvoli iocos cum voluptate ^ audi- 
eras, saepius repete ; potuisse ilium implere spes 
tuas, quas paterna mente conceperas, audacter ad- 

24 firma. Oblivisci quidem suorum ac memoriam cum 

^ imprudentium later MSS. ; ut prudentium BA. 

* sine acerbitate later MSS. ; inea cervitate BA. 

' voluptate later MSS. ; voluntate BA. 

" i.e.y a shroud for the funeral couch, lectu8 vitalis. 


We may, I assure you, obey Nature and yet maintain 
our dignity, I have seen men worthy of reverence, 
during the burial of those near and dear, with 
countenances upon which love was written clear even 
after the whole apparatus of mourning was removed, 
and who showed no other conduct than that which 
was allowed to genuine emotion. There is a come- 
liness even in grief. This should be cultivated by 
the wise man ; even in tears, just as in other matters 
also, there is a certain sufficiency ; it is with the 
unwise that sorrows, like joys, gush over. 

" Accept in an unruffled spirit that which is 
inevitable. What can happen that is beyond belief ? 
Or what that is new ? How many men at this very 
moment are making arrangements for funerals ! 
How many are purchasing grave-clothes <* ! How 
many are mourning, when you yourself have finished 
mourning ! As often as you reflect that your boy 
has ceased to be, reflect also upon man, who has 
no sure promise of anything, whom Fortune does 
not inevitably escort to the confines of old age, but 
lets him go at whatever point she sees fit. You 
may, however, speak often concerning the departed, 
and cherish his memory to the extent of your power. 
This memory will return to you all the more often 
if you welcome its coming without bitterness ; for 
no man enjoys converse with one who is sorrowful, 
much less with sorrow itself. And whatever words, 
whatever jests of his, no matter how much of a child 
he was, may have given you pleasure to hear — 
these I would have you recall again and again ; 
assure yourself confidently that he might have 
fulfilled the hopes which you, his father, had 
entertained. Indeed, to forget the beloved dead, 
to bury their memory along with their bodies, to 



corporibus efferre et efFusissime flere, meminisse ^ 
parcissime, — inhumani animi est. Sic aves, sic ferae 
suos diligunt, quarum concitatus ^ est amor et paene 
rabidus, sed cum ^ amissis totus extinguitur. Hoc 
prudentem virum non decet ; meminisse perseveret, 

25 lugere desinat. Illud nullo modo probo, quod * ait 
Metrodorus : esse aliquam cognatam tristitiae volup- 
tatem, hanc esse captandam in eiusmodi tempore. 
Ipsa Metrodori verba subscripsi. MrjTpo8u)pov cVi- 
(TToAwv Trphs rrjv dSeA^^v.^ eariv yap ns 'qSovrj Xviry 

26 (Tvyyeviqs, rjv \pr) O-qpevetv Kara tovtov tov Kaipov. De 
quibus non dubito quid sis sensurus. Quid enim est 
turpius quam captare in ip^o luctu voluptatem, 
immo per luctum, et inter lacrimas quoque quod 
iuvet, quaerere ? Hi sunt, qui nobis obiciunt nimium 
rigorem et infamant praecepta nostra duritiae,^ quod 
dicamus dolorem aut admittendum in animum non 
esse aut cito expellendum. Utrum "^ tandem est aut 
incredibilius aut inhumanius non sentire amisso 
amico dolorem an voluptatem in ipso dolore aucupari ? 

27 Nos quod praecipimus, honestum est ; cum aUquid 
lacrimarum adfectus efFuderit et, ut ita dicam, 
despumaverit, non esse tradendum animum dolori. 
Quid, tu dicis miscendam ipsi dolori voluptatem ? 

^ meminisse later MSS. ; memisse BA. 

* quarum concitatus later MSS. ; qtiorum contria con- 
citatus actus BA. 

^ cum later MSS. ; eum BA. 

* quod later MSS. ; quid BA. 

' Rossbach holds that these five words belong in the 

* duritiae Madvig ; duritia BA. 
' utrum, later MSS. ; virum BA. 



bewail them bounteously and afterwards think of 
them but scantily — this is the mark of a soul 
below that of man. For that is the way in which 
birds and beasts love their young ; their affection is 
quickly roused and almost reaches madness, but it 
cools away entirely when its object dies. This 
quality does not befit a man of sense ; he should 
continue to remember, but should cease to mourn. 
And in no wise do I approve of the remark of 
Metrodorus — that there is a certain pleasure akin 
to sadness, and that one should give chase thereto at 
such times as these. I am quoting the actual words 
of Metrodorus." I have no doubt what your feelings 
will be in these matters ; for what is baser than to 
'chase after' pleasure in the very midst of mourning 
— nay rather by means of mourning — and even 
amid one's tears to hunt out that which will give 
pleasure ? These '' are the men who accuse us " of 
too great strictness, slandering our precepts because 
of supposed harshness— because (say they) we 
declare that grief should either not be given place 
in the soul at all, or else should be driven out forth- 
with. But which is the more incredible or inhuman — 
to feel no grief at the loss of one's friend, or to go 
a-hawking after pleasure in the midst of grief? 
That which we Stoics advise, is honourable ; when 
emotion has prompted a moderate flow of tears, and 
has, so to speak, ceased to effervesce, the soul should 
not be surrendered to grief. But what do you mean, 
Metrodorus, by saying that with our very grief 
there should be a blending of pleasure ? That is 

" This passage, which Buecheler corrected in several 
places, is omitted in the English, because Seneca has already 
translated it literally. M. was addressing his sister. 

* i.e., men like Metrodorus. * i.e., the Stoics. 

VOL. Ill L 145 


Sic consolamur crustulo pueros, sic infantium fletum 
infuso lacte conpescimus. 

" Ne illo quidem tempore, quo filius ardet aut amicus 
expirat, cessare pateris voluptatem, sed ipsum vis 
titillate maerorem ? Utrum honestius dolor ab 
animo summovetur an voluptas ad dolorem quoque 
admittitur ? * Admittitur * dico ? Captatur et qui- 

28 dem ex ipso. ' Est aliqua ' inquit ' voluptas cognata 
tristitiae.' Istuc nobis licet dicere, vobis quidem 
non licet. Unum bonum nostis voluptatem, unum 
malum dolorem ; quae potest inter bonum et malum 
esse cognatio ? Sed puta esse ; nunc potissimum 
eruitur ? Et ipsum dolorem scrutamur, an quid ^ 

29 habeat iucundum circa se et voluptarium ? Quaedam 
remedia aliis partibus corporis salutaria velut foeda 
et indecora adhiberi aliis nequeunt, et quod aliubi 
prodesset sine damno verecundiae, id fit inhonestum 
loco vulneris. Non te pudet luctum voluptate sa- 
nare ? Severius ista plaga curanda est. Illud potius 
admone, nullum mali sensum ad eum, qui periit, 

30 pervenire ; nam si pervenit, non periit. Nulla, 
inquam, res eum laedit, qui nuUus est ; vivit, si 
laeditur. Utrum putas illi male esse, quod nullus 
est, an quod est adhuc aliquis ? Atqui nee ex eo 

^ an quid Buecheler ; aliquid BA ; an aliquid later MSS. 

" i.i., the Epicureans. 

* i.e., grief should not be replaced by pleasure ; otherwise 
grief will cease to exist. 



the sweetmeat method of pacifying children ; that is 
the way we still the cries of infants, by pouring milk 
down their throats ! 

" Even at the moment when your son's body is 
on the pyre, or your friend breathing his last, will 
you not suffer your pleasure to cease, rather than 
tickle your very grief with pleasure ? Which is 
the more honourable — to remove grief from your 
soul, or to admit pleasure even into the company 
of grief ? Did I say ' admit * ? Nay, I mean 
' chase after,' and from the hands, too, of grief 
itself. Metrodorus says : ' There is a certain pleasure 
which is related to sadness.' We Stoics may say 
that, but you may not. The only Good which you <* 
recognize, is pleasure, and the only Evil, pain ; and 
what relationship can there be between a Good and 
an Evil ? But suppose that such a relationship does 
exist ; now, of all times, is it to be rooted out ? ^ 
Shall we examine grief also, and see with what 
elements of delight and pleasure it is surrounded ? 
Certain remedies, which are beneficial for some parts 
of the body, cannot be applied to other parts because 
these are, in a way, revolting and unfit ; and that 
which in certain cases would work to a good purpose 
without any loss to one's self-respect, may become 
unseemly because of the situation of the wound. 
Are you not, similarly, ashamed to cure sorrow by 
pleasure ? No, this sore spot must be treated in a 
more drastic way. This is what you should prefer- 
ably advise : that no sensation of evil can reach one 
who is dead ; for if it can reach him, he is not dead. 
And I say that nothing can hurt him who is as 
naught ; for if a man can be hurt, he is alive. 
Do you think him to be badly off because he is no 
more, or because he still exists as somebody ? And 



potest ei tormentum esse, quod non est ; quis enim 
nullius sensus est ? Nee ex eo, quod est ; efFugit 
enim maximum mortis incommodum, non esse. 

31 " lUud quoque dicamus ei, qui deflet ac desiderat in 
aetate prima raptum : omnes, quantum ad brevita- 
tem aevi, si universo conpares, et iuvenes et senes, 
in aequo sumus. Minus enim ad nos ex aetate 
omni venit quam quod minimum esse quis dixerit, 
quoniam quidem minimum aliqua pars est. Hoc 
quod vivimus, proximum nihilost ; et tamen, o 
dementiam nostram, late disponitur. 

32 " Haec tibi scripsi, non tamquam expectaturus esses 
remedium tam serum, liquet enim mihi te locutum 
tecum quicquid lecturus es, sed ut castigarem exi- 
guam illam moram, qua a te recessisti, et in reliquom 
adhortarer, contra fortunam tolleres animos et omnia 
eius tela, non tamquam possent venire, sed tamquam 
utique essent ventura, prospiceres." Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Fabiani Papiri libros, qui inscribuntur Civilium, 
legisse te cupidissime scribis, et non respondisse 
expectationi tuae, deinde oblitus de philosopho agi 
conpositionem eius accusas. 


yet no torment can come to him from the fact that 
he is no more — for what feeUng can belong to one 
who does not exist? — nor from the fact that he 
exists ; for he has escaped the greatest disadvantage 
that death has in it — namely, non-existence. 

" Let us say this also to him who mourns and 
misses the untimely dead : that all of us, whether 
young or old, live, in comparison with eternity, on the 
same level as regards our shortness of life. For 
out of all time there comes to us less than what any 
one could call least, since ' least ' is at any rate some 
part ; but this life of ours is next to nothing, and yet 
(fools that we are !), we marshal it in broad array ! 

" These words I have written to you, not with the 
idea that you should expect a cure from me at such 
a late date — for it is clear to me that you have 
told yourself everything that you will read in my 
letter — but with the idea that I should rebuke you 
even for the slight delay during which you lapsed 
from your true self, and should encourage you for 
the future, to rouse your spirit against Fortune 
and to be on the watch for all her missiles, not as 
if they might possibly come, but as if they were 
bound to come." Farewell. 


You vn-ite me that you have read with the greatest 
eagerness the work by Fabianus Papirius entitled 
The Duties of a Citizen, and that it did not come up 
to your expectations ; then, forgetting that you are 
dealing with a philosopher, you proceed to criticize 
his style. 



Puta esse quod dicis et efFundi verba, non figi ; 
primum habet ista res suam gratiam et est decor 
proprius orationis leniter lapsae. Multum enim 
interesse existimo, utrum exeiderit an fluxerit. 
Adice ^ nunc, quod in hoc quoque, quod dicturus 

2 sura, ingens ^ differentia est : Fabianus mihi non 
efFundere videtur orationem, sed fundere ; adeo 
larga est et sine perturbatione, non sine cursu tamen 
veniens. lUud plane fatetur et praefert, non esse ^ 
tractatam nee diu tortam. Sed ita, ut vis, esse 
credamus ; mores ille, non verba conposuit et aniinis 

3 scripsit ista, non auribus. Praeterea ipso dicente non 
vacasset tibi partes intueri, adeo te summa rapuisset ; 
et fere quae inpetu placent, minus praestant ad 
manum relata. 

Sed illud quoque multum est primo aspectu oculos 
occupasse, etiam si contemplatio diligens inventura 

4 est quod arguat. Si me interrogas, maior ille est, 
qui iudicium abstulit quam qui meruit ; et scio hunc 
tutiorem esse, scio audacius sibi de futuro promittere. 
Oratio sollicita philosophum non decet ; ubi tandem 
erit fortis et constans, ubi periculum sui faciet, qui 

5 timet verbis ? Fabianus non erat neglegens in 
oratione, sed securus. Itaque nihil invenies sordi- 

^ adice added by Hense. 

* ingens later MSS. ; indigens BA. 

' esse Muretus ; esset BA. 

• *.«., his style is like a river rather than a torrent. 


Suppose, now, that your statement is true — that 
he pours forth rather than places his words ; let me, 
however, tell you at the start that this trait of which 
you speak has a peculiar charm, and that it is a 
grace appropriate to a smoothly-gliding style. For, 
I maintain, it matters a great deal whether it tumbles 
forth, or flows along. Moreover, there is a deal of 
difference in this regard also — as I shall make clear 
to you : Fabianus seems to me to have not so much 
an "efflux" as a "flow" of words:" so copious 
is it, without confusion, and yet not without 
speed. This is indeed what he announces clearly 
in his preface — that he has not spent a long time 
in working his matter over and twisting it into 
shape. But even supposing the facts are as you 
would have them ; the man was building up character 
rather than words, and was writing those words for 
the mind rather than for the ear. Besides, had he 
been speaking them in his own person, you would 
not have had time to consider the details — the whole 
work would have so swept you along. For as a rule 
that which pleases by its swiftness is of less value 
when taken in hand for reading. 

Nevertheless, this very quality, too, of attracting 
at first sight is a great advantage, no matter whether 
careful investigation may discover something to 
criticize. If you ask me, I should say that he who 
has forced approval is greater than he who has 
earned it ; and yet I know that the latter is safer, I 
know that he can give more confident guarantees 
for the future. A meticulous manner of writing 
does not suit the philosopher ; if he is timid as to 
words, when will he ever be brave and steadfast, 
when will he ever really show his worth ? Fabianus 's 
style was not careless, it was assured. That is why 



dum : electa verba sunt, non captata nee huius 
saeculi more contra naturam suam posita et inversa, 
splendida tamen, quamvis sumantur e^ medio. 
Sensus honestos et magnificos habes, non coactos in 
sententiam, sed latius dictos. Videbimus, quid 
parum recisum sit, quid parum structum, quid non ^ 
huius recentis politurae ; cum circumspexeris omnia, 

6 nuUas videbis angustias inanis. Desit sane varietas 
marmorum et concisura aquarum cubiculis interfluen- 
tium et pauperis cella et quicquid aliud luxuria non 
contenta decore simplici miscet ; quod dici solet, 
domus recta est. 

Adice nunc, quod de compositione non constat. 
Quidam illam volunt esse ex horrido comptam, 
quidam usque eo aspera gaudent, ut etiam quae 
moUius casus explicuit, ex industria dissipent et 
clausulas abrumpant, ne ad expectatum respon- 

7 deant. Lege Ciceronem : compositio eius una est, 
pedem curvat lenta et sine infamia mollis. At contra 
Pollionis Asinii salebrosa et exiliens et ubi minima 
exspectes, relictura. Denique omnia apud Cicero- 
nem desinunt, aput Pollionem cadunt exceptis 
paucissimis, quae ad certum modum et ad unum 
exemplar adstricta sunt. 

1 e later MSS, ; a BA. ^ non later MSS. ; om. BA.. 

" Concisura: from concido, to " cut into sections," " dis- 
tribute " (of water-pipes). 

" Cf. Ep. xviii. 7, and Martial iii. 48 : 

Pauperis extruxit cellam, sed vendidit Olus 
praedia ; nunc cellam pauperis Olus habet. 

Rich men sometimes fitted up in their palaces an imitation 
" poor man's cabin " by way of contrast to their other 
rooms or as a gesture towards simple living; Seneca uses 
the phrase figuratively for certain devices in composition. 

' Quintilian x. 1. 113 says: multa in Asinio Pollione 
inventio, summa diligentia, adeo ut quibusdam etiam nimia 


you will find nothing shoddy in his work : his words 
are well chosen and yet not hunted for ; they are 
not unnaturally inserted and inverted, according to 
the present-day fashion ; but they possess distinction, 
even though they are taken from ordinary speech. 
There you have honourable and splendid ideas, not 
fettered into aphorisms, but spoken with greater 
freedom. We shall of course notice passages that 
are not sufficiently pruned, not constructed with 
sufficient care, and lacking the polish which is in 
vogue nowadays ; but after regarding the whole, 
you will see that there are no futile subtleties of 
argument. There may, doubtless, be no variety of 
marbles, no water-supply " which flows from one 
apartment to another, no " pauper - rooms," ^ or 
any other device that luxury adds when ill content 
with simple charms ; but, in the vulgar phrase, it is 
" a good house to live in." 

Furthermore, opinions vary with regard to the 
style. Some wish it to be polished down from all 
roughness ; and some take so great a pleasure in the 
abrupt manner that they would intentionally break 
up any passage which may by chance spread itself 
out more smoothly, scattering the closing words in 
such a way that the sentences may result unexpect- 
edly. Read Cicero : his style has unity ; it moves 
with a modulated pace, and is gentle without being 
degenerate. The style of Asinius Pollio, on the 
other hand, is " bumpy," jerky, leaving off when 
you least expect it." And finally, Cicero always 
stops gradually ; while Pollio breaks off, except in 
the very few cases where he cleaves to a definite 
rhythm and a single pattern. 

videatur ; et consilii et animi satis ; a nitore et iucunditate 
Ciceronis ita longe abest, ut videri possit saeculo prior. 



8 Humilia praeterea tibi videri dicis omnia et parum 
erecta ; quo vitio car ere iudico. Non sunt 
enim humilia ilia sed placida et ad animi tenorem ^ 
quietum compositumque formata, nee depressa sed 
plana. Deest illis oratorius vigor stimulique, quos 
quaeris, et subiti ictus sententiarum. Sed totum 
corpus videris quam sit comptum ; honestum est. 
Non habet oratio eius, sed dabit,^ dignitatem. 

9 Adfer, quern Fabiano possis praeponere. Die 
Ciceronem, cuius libri ad philosophiam pertinentes 
paene totidem sunt, quot Fabiani ; cedam, sed non 
statim pusillum est, si quid maximo minus est. Die 
Asinium Pollionem ; cedam, et respondeamus : in 
re tanta eminere est post duos esse. Nomina adhuc 
T. Livium, scripsit enim et dialogos, quos non magis 
philosophiae adnumerare possis quam historiae, et 
ex profess© philosophiam continentis libros ; huic 
quoque dabo locum. Vide tamen, quam multos 
antecedat, qui a tribus vincitur et trjbus eloquentis- 

10 Sed non praestat omnia : non est fortis oratio eius, 
quamvis elata sit ; non est violenta nee torrens, 
quam vis efFusa sit ; non est perspicua, sed pura. 
" Desideres," inquis, " contra vitia aliquid aspere dici, 
contra pericula animose, contra fortunam superbe, 

^ enim humilia ilia sed placida et ad animi tenorem later 
MSS. and Harl. ; enim tenorem BA. 
2 dabit Lipsius ; debet BA. 

" The wording here resembles strikingly that of the 
Elder Seneca, Controv. ii. pr. 2 deerat illi (sc. Fabiano) 
oratorium robur et ille pugnatorius mucro. 


In addition to this, you say that every- 
thing in Fabianus seems to you commonplace 
and lacking in elevation ; but I myself hold that 
he is free from such a fault. For that style of 
his is not commonplace, but simply calm and 
adjusted to his peaceful and well - ordered mind 
— not on a low level but on an even plane. There 
is lacking the verve and spur of the orator (for 
which you are looking), and a sudden shock of 
epigrams.** But look, please, at the whole work, 
how well-ordered it is : there is a distinction in 
it. His style does not possess, but will suggest, 

Mention someone whom you may rank ahead of 
Fabianus. Cicero, let us say, whose books on 
philosophy are almost as numerous as those of 
Fabianus. I will concede this point ; but it is no 
slight thing to be less than the greatest. Or Asinius 
Pollio, let us say. I will yield again, and content 
nay self by replying : " It is a distinction to be third 
in so great a field." You may also include Livy ; 
for Livy wrote both dialogues (which should be 
ranked as history no less than as philosophy), and 
works which professedly deal with philosophy. I 
shall yield in the case of Livy also. But consider 
how many writers Fabianus outranks, if he is sur- 
passed by three only — and those three the greatest 
masters of eloquence ! 

But, it may be said, he does not offer everything : 
though his style is elevated, it is not strong ; though 
it flows forth copiously, it lacks force and sweep ; it 
is not translucent, but it is lucid. " One would fail," 
you urge, " to find therein any rugged denunciation 
of vice, any courageous words in the face of danger, 
any proud defiance of Fortune, any scornful threats 



contra ambitionem contumeliose. Volo luxuriam 
obiurgari, libidinem traduci, inpotentiam frangi. Sit 
aliquid oratorie acre, tragice grande, cornice exile." 
Vis ilium adsidere pusillae rei, verbis ; ille rerum se 
magnitudini addixit/ eloquentiam velut umbram 
non hoc agens trahit. 

11 Non erunt sine dubio singula circumspecta nee 
in se collecta nee omne verbum excitabit ac punget,^ 
fateor. Exibunt multa nee ferient et interdum 
otiosa praeterlabetur oratio, sed multum erit in omni- 
bus lucis, sed ingens sine taedio spatium. Denique 
illud praestabit, ut liqueat tibi ilium sensisse quae 
scripsit. Intelleges hoc actum, ut tu scires quid illi 
placeret, non ut ille placeret tibi. Ad profectum 
omnia tendunt, ad bonam mentem, non quaeritur 
plans us. 

12 Talia esse scripta eius non dubito, etiam si magis 
reminiscor quam teneo haeretque mihi color eorum 
non ex recenti conversatione familiariter, sed sum- 
matim, ut solet ex vetere notitia. Cum audirem certe 
ilium, talia mihi videbantur, non solida, sed plena, 
quae adulescentem indolis bonae attoUerent et ad 
imitationem sui evocarent sine desperatione vincendi, 
quae mihi adhortatio videtur efficacissima. Deterret 
enim qui imitandi cupiditatem fecit, spem abstuht. 

^ addixit later MSS. ; adduxit BA. 
* ac punget later MSS. ; ag pugnet BA. 



against self-seeking. I wish to see luxury rebuked, 
lust condemned, waywardness crushed out. Let 
him show us the keenness of oratory, the loftiness of 
tragedy, the subtlety of comedy." You wish him 
to rely on that pettiest of things, phraseology ; but 
he has sworn allegiance to the greatness of his 
subject and draws eloquence after him as a sort of 
shadow, but not of set purpose. 

Our author will doubtless not investigate every 
detail, nor subject it to analysis, nor inspect and 
emphasize each separate word. This I admit. Many 
phrases will fall short, or will fail to strike home, and 
at times the style will slip along indolently ; but 
there will be plenty of light throughout the work ; 
there will be long stretches which will not weary 
the reader. And, finally, he will offer this quality — 
of making it clear to you that he meant what he 
wrote. You will understand that his aim was to 
have you know what pleased him, rather than that 
lie should please you. All his work makes for pro- 
gress and for sanity, without any search for applause. 
I do not doubt that his writings are of the kind 
I have described, although I am harking back to him 
rather than retaining a sure memory of him, and 
although the general tone of his writings remains in 
my mind, not from a careful and recent perusal, 
but in outline, as is natural after an acquaintance 
of long ago. But certainly, whenever I heard him 
lecture, such did his work seem to me — not solid 
but full, the kind which would inspire young men of 
promise and rouse their ambition to become like 
him, without making them hopeless of surpassing 
him ; — and this method of encouragement seems to 
me the most helpful of all. For it is disheartening 
to inspire in a man the desire, and to take away from 



Ceterum verbis abundabat, sine commendatione 
partium singularum in universum magnifieus. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Omnis dies, omnis hora quam nihil simus ostendit ^ 
et aliquo argumento recenti admonet fragilitatis 
oblitos ; turn aeterna meditates respicere cogit ad 

Quid sibi istud principium velit quaeris ? Sene- 
cionem Cornelium, equitem Romanum splendidum 
et officiosum, noveras : ex tenui principio se ipse 
promoverat et iam illi declivis erat cursus ad cetera. 

2 Facilius enim crescit dignitas quam incipit. Pecunia 
quoque circa paupertatem plurimum morae ^ habet, 
dum ex ilia erepat haeret. Iam ^ Senecio divitiis 
imminebat, ad quas ilium duae res ducebant efficacis- 
simae, et quaerendi et custodiendi scientia, quarum 

3 vel altera locupletem facere potuisset. Hie homo 
summae frugalitatis, non minus patrimonii quara 
corporis diligens, cum me ex consuetudine mane 
vidisset, cum per totum diem amico graviter ad- 
fecto et sine spe iacenti usque in noctem adsedisset, 
cum hilaris cenasset, genere valitudinis praecipiti 
arreptus, angina, vix conpressum artatis faucibus 
spiritum traxit in lucem. Intra paucissimas ergo 

^ simus ostendit later MSS. ; sumostendit BA. 
* morae Pincianus ; amorem, BA. 
' haeret ; iam Buecheler ; hoe (or hoc) etiam BA. 


him the hope, of emulation. At any rate, his language 
was fluent, and though one might not approve every 
detail, the general effect was noble. Farewell. 


Every day and every hour reveal to us what a 
nothing we are, and remind us with some fresh 
evidence that we have forgotten our weakness ; then, 
as we plan for eternity, they compel us to look over 
our shoulders at Death. 

Do you ask me what this preamble means ? It 
refers to Cornelius Senecio, a distinguished and 
capable Roman knight, whom you knew : from 
humble beginnings he had advanced himself to for- 
tune, and the rest of the path already lay downhill 
before him. For it is easier to grow in dignity than 
to make a start ; and money is very slow to come 
where there is poverty ; until it can creep out of 
that, it goes halting. Senecio was already bordering 
upon wealth, helped in that direction by two very 
powerful assets — knowing how to make money and 
how to keep it also ; either one of these gifts might 
have made him a rich man. Here was a person who 
lived most simply, careful of health and wealth alike. 
He had, as usual, called upon me early in the morning, 
and had then spent the whole day, even up to night- 
fall, at the bedside of a friend who was seriously and 
hopelessly ill. After a comfortable dinner, he was 
suddenly seized with an acute attack of quinsy, and, 
with the breath clogged tightly in his swollen throat, 
barely lived until daybreak. So within a very few 
hours after the time when he had been performing 



horas, quam omnibus erat sani ac valentis officiis 

4 functus, decessit. Ille, qui et mari et terra pecuniam 
agitabat, qui ad publica quoque nullum relinquens 
inexpertum genus quaestus accesserat, in ipso actu 
bene cedentium rerum, in ipso procurrentis pecuniae 
impetu raptus est. 

Insere nunc, Meliboee, piros, pone ordine ^ vites. 
Quam stultum est aetatem disponere ne crastini 
quidem dominum ! O quanta dementia est spes 
longas inchoantium : emam aedificabo, credam exi- 
gam, honores geram, tum deinde lassam et plenam 

5 senectutem in otium referam. Omnia, mihi crede, 
etiam felicibus dubia sunt. Nihil sibi quisquam de 
futuro debet promittere. Id quoque, quod tenetur, 
per manus exit et ipsam, quam premimus, horam 
casus incidit. Volvitur tempus rata quidem lege, 
sed per obscurum ; quid autem ad me, an naturae 
certum sit quod mihi incertum est ? 

6 Navigationes longas et pererratis litoribus alienis 
seres in patriam reditus proponimus, militiam et 
castrensium laborum tarda manipretia, procurationes 
officiorumque per officia processus, cum interim ad 
latus mors est, quae quoniam numquam cogitatur 
nisi aliena, subinde nobis ingeruntur mortalitatis 
exempla non diutius quam dum miramur haesura. 

7 Quid autem stultius quam mirari id ullo die factum, 

^ pone in ordine BA. 

» Vergil, Ed. i. 74. 

* Perhaps a hint to Lucilius, who was at this time 
procurator in Sicily. 



all the duties of a sound and healthy man, he passed 
away. He who was venturing investments by land 
and sea, who had also entered public life and left no 
t3rpe of business untried, during the very realization 
of financial success and during the very onrush of the 
money that flowed into his coffers, was snatched from 
the world ! 

Graft now thy pears, Meliboeus, and set out thy vines in 
their order ! " 

But how foolish it is to set out one's life, when one is 
not even owner of the morrow ! O what madness 
it is to plot out far-reaching hopes ! To say : "I 
will buy and build, loan and call in money, win titles 
of honour, and then, old and full of years, I will sur- 
render myself to a life of ease." Believe me when I 
say that everything is doubtful, even for those who 
are prosperous. No one has any right to draw for 
himself upon the future. The very thing that we 
grasp slips through our hands, and chatice cuts into 
the actual hour which we are crowding so full. Time 
does indeed roll along by fixed law, but as in dark- 
ness ; and what is it to me whether Nature's course 
is sure, when my own is unsure ? 

We plan distant voyages and long-postponed 
home-comings after roaming over foreign shores, we 
plan for military service and the slow rewards of 
hard campaigns, we canvass for governorships ^ and the 
promotions of one office after another — and all the 
while death stands at our side ; but since we never 
think of it except as it affects our neighbour, instances 
of mortality press upon us day by day, to remain in 
our minds only as long as they stir our wonder. 

Yet what is more foolish than to wonder that some- 
thing which may happen every day has happened 

VOL. Ill M 161 


quod omni potest fieri ? Stat quidem terminus 
nobis, ubi ilium inexorabilis fatorum necessitas fixit, 
sed nemo scit nostrum, quam prope versetur ter- 
miinum.^ Sic itaque formemus animum, tamquam 
ad extrema ventum sit. Nihil difFeramus. Cotidie 

8 cum vita paria faciamus. Maximum vitae vitium 
est, quod inperfecta semper est, quod aliquid ^ ex ilia 
difFertur. Qui cotidie vitae suae summam manum 
inposuit, non indiget tempore. Ex hac autem in- 
digentia timor nascitur et cupiditas futuri exedens 
animum. Nihil est miserius dubitatione venientium 
quorsus evadant ; quantum sit illud quod restat 
aut quale, sollicita^ mens inexplicabili formidine 

9 Quo modo eflfugiemus hanc volutationem ? Uno, 
si vita nostra non prominebit, si in se coUigitur. 
Ille enim ex futuro suspenditur, cui inritum est 
praesens. Ubi vero, quidquid mihi debui, redditum 
est, ubi stabilita mens scit nihil interesse inter diem 
et saeculum, quicquid deinceps dierum rerumque 
venturum est, ex alto prospicit et cum multo risu 
seriem temporum cogitat. Quid enim varietas 
mobilitasque casuum perturbabit, si certus sis ad- 
versus incerta ? 

10 Ideo propera, Lucili mi, vivere et singulos dies 
singulas vitas puta. Qui hoc modo se aptavit,* 
cui vita sua cotidie fuit tota, securus est ; in spem ^ 
viventibus proximum quodque tempus elabitur subit- 

^ terminum Buecheler ; terminus BA. 
2 in aliquid BA. The best solution, in spite of several 
emendations, is to drop in. 

* sollicita Buecheler ; collecta BA. 

* aptavit Stephanus ; aptabit BA. 

* spem later MSS. ; spe BA. 


on any one day ? There is indeed a limit fixed 
for us, just where the remorseless law of Fate has 
fixed it ; but none of us knows how near he is to 
this limit. Therefore, let us so order our minds as 
if we had come to the very end. Let us postpone 
nothing. Let us balance life's account every day. 
The greatest flaw in life is that it is always imperfect, 
and that a certain part of it is postponed. One who 
daily puts the finishing touches to his life is never in 
want of time. And yet, from this want arise fear 
and a craving for the future which eats away the 
mind. There is nothing more wretched than worry 
over the outcome of future events ; as to the amount 
or the nature of that which remains, our troubled 
minds are set a-flutter with unaccountable fear. 

How, then, shall we avoid this vacillation ? In 
one way only, — if there be no reaching forward in 
our life, if it is withdrawn into itself. For he only is 
anxious about the future, to whom the present is 
unprofitable. But when I have paid my soul its 
due, when a soundly -balanced mind knows that a day 
differs not a whit from eternity — whatever days or 
problems the future may bring — then the soul looks 
forth from lofty heights and laughs heartily to itself 
when it thinks upon the ceaseless succession of the 
ages. For what disturbance can result from the 
changes and the instability of Chance, if you are 
sure in the face of that which is unsure ? 

Therefore, my dear Lucilius, begin at once to live, 
and count each separate day as a separate life. He 
who has thus prepared himself, he whose daily life 
has been a rounded whole, is easy in his mind ; but 
those who live for hope alone find that the immediate 
future always slips from their grasp and that greed 



que aviditas et miserrimus ac miserrima omnia effi- 
ciens metus mortis. Inde illud Maecenatis tur- 
pissimum votum, quo et debilitatem non recusat 
et deformitatem et novissime acutam crucem, dum- 
modo inter haec mala spiritus prorogetur : 

11 Debilem facito manu, debilem pede coxo, 
Tuber adstrue gibberum, lubricos quate dentes ; 
Vita dum superest, benest ; banc ^ mihi, vel acuta 
Si sedeam cruce, sustine. 

12 Quod miserrimum erat, si incidisset, optatur et 
tamquam vita petitur supplici mora. Contemptis- 
simum putarem, si vivere vellet usque ad crucem : 
" Tu vero " inquit, " me debilites licet, dum spiritus 
in corpore fracto et inutili maneat. Depraves licet, 
dum monstroso et distort© ^ temporis aliquid accedat. 
Suffigas licet et acutam sessuro crucem subdas." Est 
tanti vulnus suum premere et patibulo pendere di- 
strictum, dum difFerat id, quod est in malis optimum, 
supplicii finem ? Est tanti habere animam, ut agam ? 

13 Quid huic optes nisi deos faciles ? Quid sibi vult ista 
carminis effeminati turpitudo ? Quid timoris demen- 

* hanc later MSS. ; hoc BA. 
* distorto Erasmus ; detorto Ilaase ; deserto BA. 

" Frag. 1, p. 35 Ivunderstcdt. 

* Horace, his intimate friend, wrote Od. ii. 17 to cheer the 
despondent Maecenas ; and Pliny {N.H. vii. 54) mentions 
his fevers and his insomnia — perpetua febris. . . . Eidem 
triennio supremo nullo horae momento contigit somnus. 



steals along in its place, and the fear of death, a curse 
which lays a curse upon everything else. Thence 
came that most debased of prayers, in which 
Maecenas "■ does not refuse to suffer weakness, 
deformity, and as a climax the pain of crucifixion — 
provided only that he may prolong the breath of hfe 
amid these sufferings : ^ 

Fashion me with a palsied hand, 
Weak of foot, and a cripple ; 
Build upon me a crook-backed hump ; 
Shake my teeth till they rattle ; 
All is well, if my life remains. 
Save, oh, save it, I pray you, 
Though I sit on the piercing cross ! 

There he is, praying for that which, if it had be- 
fallen him, would be the most pitiable thing in the 
world ! And seeking a postponement of suffering, as 
if he were asking for life ! I should deem him most 
despicable had he wished to live up to the very time of 
crucifixion : " Nay," he cries, " you may weaken my 
body if you will only leave the breath of life in my 
battered and ineffective carcase!" "Maim me if 
you will, but allow me, misshapen and deformed as I 
may be, just a little more time in the world ! You 
may nail me up and set my seat upon the piercing 
cross ! " Is it worth while to weigh down upon 
one's own wound, and hang impaled upon a gibbet, 
that one may but postpone something which is the 
balm of troubles, the end of punishment ? Is it 
worth all this to possess the breath of life only to give 
it up ? What would you ask for Maecenas but the 
indulgence of Heaven ? What does he mean by 
such womanly and indecent verse ? What does he 
mean by making terms with panic fear ? What does 



tissimi pactio ? Quid tam foeda vitae mendicatio ? 
Huic 1 putes umquam recitasse Vergilium : 

Usque adeone mori miserum est ? 

Optat ultima malorum, et quae pati gravissimum est 
extendi ac sustineri cupit ; qua mercede ? Scilicet 
vitae longioris. Quod autem vivere est diu mori ? 

14 Invenitur aliquis, qui velit inter supplicia tabescere 
et perire membratim et totiens per stilicidia emittere 
animam quam semel exhalare ? Invenitur, qui velit 
adactus ad illud infelix lignum, iam debilis, iam 
pravus et in foedum scapularum ac pectoris ^ tuber 
elisus, cui multae moriendi causae etiam citra crucem 
fuerant, trahere animam tot tormenta tracturam ? 

Nega nunc magnum beneficium esse naturae, quod 
necesse est mori. Multi peiora adhuc pacisci parati 

15 sunt : etiam amicum prodere, ut diutius vivant, et 
liberos ad stuprum manu sua tradere, ut contingat 
lucem videre tot consciam scelerum. Excutienda 
vitae cupido ^ est discendumque nihil interesse, 
quando patiaris, quod quandoque patiendum est. 
Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu ; saepe autem 
in hoc est ^ bene, ne diu. Vale. 

^ huic Muretus ; cui BA. 

^ ac pectoris later MSS. ; acceptoris BA. 

^ cupido later MSS. ; cui pido BA. 

* est Gruter ; esse BA. 



he mean by begging so vilely for life ? He cannot 
ever have heard Vergil read the words : 

Tell me, is Death so wretched as that ? " 

He asks for the climax of suffering, and — w^hat is still 
harder to bear — prolongation and extension of 
suffering ; and what does he gain thereby ? Merely 
the boon of a longer existence. But what sort of 
Hfe is a lingering death ? Can anyone be found who 
would prefer wasting away in pain, dying limb by 
limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than 
expiring once for all ? Can any man be found willing 
to be fastened to the accursed tree,^ long sickly, 
already deformed, swelling with ugly tumours on 
chest and shoulders, and draw the breath of life 
amid long-drawn-out agony ? I think he would have 
many excuses for dying even before mounting the 
cross ! 

Deny, now, if you can, that Nature is very generous 
in making death inevitable. Many men have been 
prepared to enter upon still more shameful bargains : 
to betray friends in order to live longer themselves, 
or voluntarily to debase their children and so enjoy 
the light of day which is witness of all their sins, 
We must get rid of this craving for life, and learn that 
it makes no difference when your suffering comes, 
because at some time you are bound to suffer. The 
point is, not how long you live, but how nobly you 
live. And often this living nobly means that you 
cannot live long. Farewell. 

" Aeneid xii. 646. 
* Infelix lignum (or arbor) is the cross. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Quomodo molestus est iucundum somnium videnti 
qui excitat, aufert enim voluptatem, etiam si falsam, 
effectum tamen verae habentem ; sic epistula tua 
mihi fecit iniuriam. Revocavit enim me cogitationi 
aptae traditum et iturum, si licuisset, ulterius. 

2 luvabat de aeternitate animarum quaerere, immo 
mehercules credere. Praebebam^ enim me facilem 
opinionibus magnorum virormn rem gratissimam 
promittentium magis quam probantium. Dabam 
me spei tantae. lam eram fastidio mihi, iam 
reliquias aetatis infractae contemnebam in immensum 
illud tempus et in possessionem omnis aevi trans- 
iturus ; cum subito experrectus ^ sum epistula tua 
accepta et tarn bellum somnium perdidi. Quod 
repetam, si te dimisero, et redimam. 

3 Negat me epistula prima totam quaestionem ex- 
plicuisse, in qua probare conabar id quod nostris 
placet, claritatem, quae post mortem contingit;, 
bonum esse. Id enim me non solvisse, quod op- 
ponitur nobis : " Nullum," inquiunt, " bonum ex 
distantibus. Hoc autem ex distantibus constat." 

4 Quod interrogas, mi Lucili, eiusdem quaestionis est 

^ praebebam Buecheler ; credebam BA. 
' experrectus later MSS. ; experfectus BA. 

" Seneca, worn out by his political experiences, was at 
this time not less than sixty-seven years of age. 



Just as a man is annoying when he rouses a 
dreamer of pleasant dreams (for he is spoiHng a 
pleasure which may be unreal but nevertheless has 
the appearance of reality), even so your letter has 
done me an inj ury . For it brought me back abruptly, 
absorbed as I was in agreeable meditation and ready 
to proceed still further if it had been permitted me. 
I was taking pleasure in investigating the immortality 
of souls, nay, in believing that doctrine. For I was 
lending a ready ear to the opinions of the great 
authors, who not only approve but promise this most 
pleasing condition. I was giving myself over to 
such a noble hope ; for I was already weary of 
myself, beginning already to despise the fragments 
of my shattered existence,** and feehng that I was 
destined to pass over into that infinity of time and 
the heritage of eternity, when I was suddenly 
awakened by the receipt of your letter, and lost my 
lovely dream. But, if I can once dispose of you, I 
shall reseek and rescue it. 

There was a remark, at the beginning of your 
letter, that I had not explained the whole problem — 
wherein I was endeavouring to prove one of the 
beliefs of our school, that the renown which falls to 
one's lot after death is a good ; for I had not solved 
the problem with which we are usually confronted : 
" No good can consist of things that are distinct 
and separate ; yet renown consists of such things." 
What you are asking about, my dear LuciHus, 
belongs to another topic of the same subject, and that 



loci alterius, et ideo non hoc ^ tantum, sed alia quoque 
eodem ^ pertinentia distuleram. Quaedam enim, 
ut scis, moralibus ^ rationalia inmixta sunt. Itaque 
illam partem rectam et ad mores pertinentem trac- 
tavi : numquid stultum sit ac supervacuum ultra 
extremum diem curas. transmittere, an cadant bona 
nostra nobiscum nihilque sit eius, qui nullus est, 
an ex eo, quod, cum erit, sensuri non sumus, ante- 
quam sit, aliquis fructus percipi ^ aut peti possit. 

5 Haec omnia mores spectant ; itaque suo loco posita 
sunt. At quae a dialecticis contra banc opinionem 
dicuntur, segreganda fuerunt et ideo seposita sunt. 
Nunc, quia omnia exigis, omnia quae dicunt per- 

6 sequar, deinde singulis occurram. Nisi aliquid prae- 
dixero, intellegi non poterunt quae refellentur. 
Quid est, quod praedicere ^ velim ? Quaedam con- 
tinua corpora esse, ut hominem ; quaedam esse 
composita, ut navem, domum, omnia denique, 
quorum diversae partes iunctura in unum coactae 
sunt ; quaedam ex distantibus, quorum adhue 
membra separata sunt, tamquam exercitus, populus, 
senatus. Illi enim, per quos ista corpora efficiuntur, 
iure aut officio cohaerent, natura diducti et singuli 
sunt. Quid est, quod etiamnunc praedicere velim ? 

7 Nullum bonum putamus esse, quod ex distantibus 
constat. Uno ^ enim spiritu unum bonum contineri 

^ hoc added in later MSS. 

* eodem later MSS. ; om. BA. 

^ moralibus later MSS. ; moralia BA. 

* percipi later MSS. ; percipit BA. 

^ praedicere later MSS. : praecidere BA. 

® uno later MSS. ; xmde BA. 

*• Seneca is perhaps popularizing the Stoic combinations, — 
vapdOeais (juxtaposition), fil^is (mixture) or KpaaLs (fusion), and 
ffOyx^o-LS (chemical mixture). Cf. E. V. Arnold, Roman 
Stoicism, p. 169. 



is why I had postponed the arguments, not only on 
this one topic, but on other topics which also covered 
the same ground. For, as you know, certain logical 
questions are mingled with ethical ones. Accord- 
ingly, I handled the essential part of my subject 
which has to do with conduct — as to whether it is 
foolish and useless to be concerned with what lies 
beyond our last day, or whether our goods die with 
us and there is nothing left of him who is no more, 
or whether any profit can be attained or attempted 
beforehand out of that of which, when it comes, we 
shall not be conscious. 

All these things have a view to conduct, and there- 
fore they have been inserted under the proper topic. 
But the remarks of dialecticians in opposition to this 
idea had to be sifted out, and were accordingly laid 
aside. Now that you demand an answer to them 
all, I shall examine all their statements, and then 
refute them singly. Unless, however, I make a 
preliminary remark, it will be impossible to under- 
stand my rebuttals. And what is that preliminary 
remark ? Simply this : there are certain continuous 
bodies, such as a man ; there are certain composite 
bodies, — as ships, houses, and everything which is 
the result of joining separate parts into one sum 
total : there are certain others made up of things 
that are distinct," each member remaining separate — 
like an army, a populace, or a senate. For the persons 
who go to make up such bodies are united by virtue 
of law or function ; but by their nature they are 
distinct and individual. Well, what further prefatory 
remarks do I still wish to make ? Simply this : we 
beheve that nothing is a good, if it be composed of 
things that are distinct. For a single good should 
be checked and controlled by a single soul ; and the 



ac regi debet, unum esse unius boni principale. Hoc 
si quando desideraveris, per se probatur ; interim 
ponendum fuit, quia in nos ^ nostra tela mittuntur. 

8 " Dicitis," inquit, " nullum bonum ex distantibus 
esse ? Claritas autem ista bonorum virorum secunda 
opinio est. Nam quomodo fama non est unius sermo 
nee infamia unius mala existimatio, sic nee claritas 
uni bono placuisse. Consentire in hoc plures insignes 
et spectabiles viri debent, ut claritas sit. Haec autem 
ex iudiciis plurium ^ efficitur, id est distantium ; 

9 ergo non est bonum. Claritas," inquit, " laus est a 
bonis bono reddita ; laus oratio, vox est aliquid signi- 
ficans ; vox est autem, licet virorum sit bonorum, non * 
bonum. Nee enim quicquid vir bonus facit, bonum 
est. Nam et plaudit et sibilat, sed nee plausum 
quisquam nee sibilum, licet omnia eius admiretur 
et laudet, bonum dicit, non magis quam stemu- 
mentum aut tussim. Ergo claritas bonum non est. 

10 Ad summam dicite nobis, utrum laudantis an laudati 
bonum sit : si laudati * bonum esse dicitis, tam 
ridiculam rem facitis, quam si adfirmetis meum esse, 
quod alius bene valeat. Sed laudare dignos honesta 
actio est ; ita laudantis bonum est, cuius actio est, 

^ nos added by Schweighaeuser. 

* plurium later MSS. ; plurimutn BA. 

* bonorum non inserted by Erasmus. 

* laudati Madvig ; laudantis BA. 

i.e., the arguments of the Stoics. 



essential quality of each single good should be single. 
This can be proved of itself whenever you desire ; 
in the meanwhile, however, it had to be laid aside, 
because our own weapons" are being hurled at us. 

Opponents speak thus : " You say, do you, that 
no good can be made up of things that are 
distinct ? Yet this renown, of which you speak, is 
simply the favourable opinion of good men. For 
just as reputation does not consist of one person's 
remarks, and as ill repute does not consist of one 
person's disapproval, so renown does not mean that 
we have merely pleased one good person. In order 
to constitute renown, the agreement of many 
distinguished- and praiseworthy men is necessary. 
But this results from the decision of a number — 
in other words, of persons who are distinct. There- 
fore, it is not a good. You say, again, that renown 
is the praise rendered to a good man by good men. 
Praise means speech : now speech is utterance with 
a particular meaning ; and utterance, even from the 
hps of good men, is not a good in itself. For any 
act of a good man is not necessarily a good ; he shouts 
his applause and hisses his disapproval, but one does 
not call the shouting or the hissing good — although 
his entire conduct may be admired and praised — any 
more than one would applaud a sneeze or a cough. 
Therefore, renown is not a good. Finally, tell us 
whether the good belongs to him who praises, or to 
him who is praised : if you say that the good belongs 
to him who is praised, you are on as foolish a quest 
as if you were to maintain that my neighbour's, 
good health is my own. But to praise worthy men 
is an honourable action ; thus the good is exclusively 
that of the man who does the praising, of the man 
who performs the action, and not of us, who are 



non nostrum, qui laudamur. Atqui hoc quaere- 

11 Respondebo nunc singulis cursim. Primum, an sit 
aliquod ex distantibus bonum, etiamnunc quaeritur 
et pars utraque sententias habet. Deinde claritas 
desiderat multa sufFragia ? Potest et unius boni viri 
iudicio esse contenta ; unus nos ^ bonus bonos iudicat. 

12 " Quid ergo ? " inquit, " et fama erit unius hominis 
existimatio et infamia unius malignus sermo ? 
Gloriam quoque," inquit, " latius fusam intellego, 
consensum enim multorum exigit." Diversa horum 
condicio est et illius. Quare ? Quia, si de me bene 
vir bonus sentit, eodem loco sum, quo si omnes 
boni idem sentirent ; omnes enim, si me cognoverint, 
idem sentient. Par illis idemque indicium est, 
aeque vero inficiscitur. Dissidere non possunt ; ita 
pro eo est, ac si omnes idem sentiant, quia aliud 

13 sentire non possunt. '* Ad gloriam aut famam non 
est satis unius opinio." lllic idem potest una sen- 
tentia, quod omnium, quia omnium, si perrogetur, 
una erit ; hie diversa dissimilium iudicia sunt. 
Difficiles adfectus, dubia omnia invenies, levia, 
suspecta. Putas tu posse unam omnium esse sen- 
tentiam ? Non est unius una sententia. lUi placet 
verum, veritatis una vis, una facies est ; apud hos 

^ unus nos Hense ; nos BA. 

» i.e., of the umis vir bonus, as contrasted with the many. 


being praised. And yet this was the question under 

I shall now answer the separate objections hurriedly. 
The first question still is, whether any good can 
consist of things that are distinct — and there are 
votes cast on both sides. Again, does renown need 
many votes ? Renown can be satisfied with the 
decision of one good man : it is one good man who 
decides that we are good. Then the retort is : 
" What ! Would you define reputation as the esteem 
of one individual, and ill-repute as the rancorous 
chatter of one man? Glory, too, we take to be more 
widespread, for it demands the agreement of many 
men." But the position of the " many " is different 
from that of " the one." And why ? Because, 
if the good man thinks well of me, it practically 
amounts to my being thought well of by all good 
men ; for they will all think the same, if they know 
me. Their judgment is alike and identical; the 
effect of truth on it is equal. They cannot dis- 
agree, which means that they would all hold the 
same view, being unable to hold different views. 
" One man's opinion," you say, " is not enough to 
create glory or reputation." In the former case,** one 
judgment is a universal judgment, because all, if 
they were asked, would hold one opinion ; in the 
other case, however, men of dissimilar character 
give divergent judgments. You will find perplexing 
emotions — everything doubtful, inconstant, untrust- 
worthy. And can you suppose that all men are 
able to hold one opinion ? Even an individual does 
not hold to a single opinion. With the good man it 
is truth that causes belief, and truth has but one 
function and one likeness ; while among the second 
class of which I spoke, the ideas with which they 



falsa sunt, quibus adsentiuntur. Numquam autem 

14 falsis constantia est : variantur et dissident. " Sed 
laus," inquit, " nihil aliud quam vox est, vox autem 
bonum non est." Cum dicunt^ claritatem esse 
laudem bonorum a bonis redditam,^ non ad vocem 
referunt, sed ad sententiam. Licet enim vir bonus 
taceat, sed aliquem iudicet dignum laude esse, 

15 laudatus est. Praeterea aliud est laus, aliud laudatio, 
haec et vocem exigit. Itaque nemo dicit laudem 
funebrem, sed laudationem, cuius officium oratione 
constat. Cum dicimus aliquem laude dignum, non 
verba illi benigna hominum, sed iudicia promittimus. 
Ergo laus etiam taciti est bene sentientis ac bonum 
virum apud se laudantis. 

16 Deinde, ut dixi, ad animum refertur laus, non ad 
verba, quae conceptam laudem egerunt et in noti- 
tiam^ plurium emittunt. Laudat qui laudandum 
esse iudicat. Cum tragicus ille apud nos ait magnifi- 
cum esse " laudari a laudato viro," laude digno ait. 
Et cum aeque antiquus poeta ait " laus alit artis," * 
non laudationem dicit, quae corrumpit artes. Nihil 
enim aeque et eloquentiam et omne aHud studium 
auribus deditum vitiavit quam popularis adsensio. 

17 Fama vocem utique desiderat, claritas potest etiam ^ 
citra vocem contingere contenta iudicio. Plena 

^ dicunt Lipsius ; dicant BA. 

* redditam later MSS. ; reddi iam BA. 

* in notitiam later MSS. ; innocentiam BA. 

* alit artes Erasmus ; alitteris BA. 

* etiam Buecheler ; enim BA. 

" i.e., the Stoics. 

* Naevius, quoted by Cicero, Tiisc. Disp. iv. 31 (of Hector) : 

laetus Slim 
laudari me abs te, pater, laudato viro. 

A commonplace sentiment, found, e.g., in Cicero, 
Tusc. Disp. i. 2. 4. 



agree are unsound. Moreover, those who are false 
are never steadfast : they are irregular and discord- 
ant. " But praise," says the objector, "is nothing 
but an utterance, and an utterance is not a good." 
When they <* say that renown is praise bestowed on 
the good by the good, what they refer to is not an 
utterance but a judgment. For a good man may 
remain silent ; but if he decides that a certain person 
is worthy of praise, that person is the object of 
praise. Besides, praise is one thing, and the giving 
of praise another ; the latter demands utterance also. 
Hence no one speaks of " a funeral praise," but says 
" praise - giving " — for its function depends upon 
speech. And when we say that a man is worthy of 
praise, we assure human kindness to him, not in 
words, but in judgment. So the good opinion, even 
of one who in silence feels inward approval of a good 
man, is praise. 

Again, as I have said, praise is a matter of the 
mind rather than of the speech ; for speech brings 
out the praise that the mind has conceived, and 
publishes it forth to the attention of the many. To 
judge a man worthy of praise, is to praise him. And 
when our tragic poet * sings to us that it is wonderful 
"to be praised by a well-praised hero," he means, 
" by one who is worthy of praise." Again, when an 
equally venerable bard says : " " Praise nurtureth 
the arts," he does not mean the giving of praise, for 
that spoils the arts. Nothing has corrupted oratory 
and all other studies that depend on hearing so 
much as popular approval.** Reputation necessarily 
demands words, but renown can be content with 
men's judgments, and suffice without the spoken 

•* Gf. Ep. xl, 4 haec popularis {pratio) nihil habet veri. 
VOL. HI N 177 


est non tantum inter tacentis, sed etiam inter re- 
clamantis. Quid intersit inter claritatem et gloriam 
dicam : gloria multorum iudiciis constat, claritas 

18 bonorum, " Cuius," inquit, " bonum est claritas, id 
est laus bono a bonis reddita ? Utrum laudati an 
laudantis ? " Utriusque. Meum, qui laudor ; quia 
natura me^ amantem omnium genuit, et bene 
fecisse gaudeo, et gratos me invenisse virtutum 
interpretes laetor ; hoc plurium ^ bonum est, quod 
grati sunt, sed et meum. Ita enim animo conpositus 
sum, ut ^ aliorum bonum meum iudicem, utique 

19 eorum, quibus ipse* sum boni causa. Est istud 
laudantium bonum, virtute enim geritur ; omnis 
autem virtutis actio bonum est. Hoc contingere 
illis non potuisset, nisi ego talis essem. Itaque 
utriusque bonum est merito laudari, tam mehercules 
quam bene iudicasse iudicantis bonum est et eius, 
secundum quem iudicatum est. Numquid dubitas, 
quin iustitia et habentis bonum sit et autem sit eius, 
cui debitum solvit ? Merentem laudare iustitia est ; 
ergo utriusque bonum est. 

20 Cavillatoribus istis abunde responderimus.^ Sed 
non debet hoc nobis esse propositum arguta disserere 
et philosophiam in has angustias ex sua maiestate 
detrahere ; quanto satius est ire aperta ^ via et recta 
quam sibi ipsum flexus disponere, quos cum magna 

^ natura me later MSS. ; naturam mea BA. 

^ plurium later MSS. ; plurimum, BA. 

3 ut later MSS. ; et BA. 

* ipse or istius later MSS. ; iste BA. 

^ responderimus Pincianus ; respondebimus BA. 

^ aperta later MSS. ; aperte BA^. 




word. It is satisfied not only amid silent approval, 
but even in the face of open protest. There is, in 
my opinion, this difference between renown and 
glory — the latter depends upon the judgments of 
the many ; but renown on the judgments of good 
men. The retort comes : " But whose good is this 
renown, this praise rendered to a good man by good 
men ? Is it of the one praised, or of the one who 
praises ? " Of both, I say. It is my own good, in that 
I am praised, because I am naturally born to love all 
men, and I rejoice in having done good deeds and 
congratulate myself on having found men who express 
their ideas of my virtues with gratitude ; that they 
are grateful, is a good to the many, but it is a good 
to me also. For my spirit is so ordered that I can 
regard the good of other men as my own — in any 
case those of whose good I am myself the cause. 
This good is also the good of those who render the 
praise, for it is applied by means of virtue ; and every 
act of virtue is a good. My friends could not have 
found this blessing if I had not been a man of the 
right stamp. It is therefore a good belonging to both 
sides, — this being praised when one deserves it — just 
as truly as a good decision is the good of him who 
makes the decision and also of him in whose favour the 
decision was given. Do you doubt that justice is a 
blessing to its possessor, as well as to the man to 
whom the just due was paid ? To praise the deserving 
is justice ; therefore, the good belongs to both sides. 
This will be a sufficient answer to such dealers in 
subtleties. But it should not be our purpose to dis- 
cuss things cleverly and to drag Philosophy down 
from her majesty to such petty quibbles. How 
much better it is to follow the open and direct road, 
rather than to map out for yourself a circuitous route 



molestia debeas relegere ? Neque enim quicquam 
aliud istae disputationes sunt quam inter se perite 

21 captantium lusus. Die potius, quam naturale sit in 
inmensum mentem suam extendere. Magna et 
generosa res est humanus animus : nuUos sibi poni nisi 
communes et cum deo terminos patitur. Primum 
humilem non accipit patriam, Ephesum aut Alexan- 
driam aut si quod est etiamnunc frequentius accolis ^ 
laetiusve tectis ^ solum ; patria est illi quodcumque 
suprema et universa circuitu suo cingit, hoc omne 
convexum, intra quod iacent maria cum terris, intra 
quod aer humanis divina secernens etiam ^ coniungit, 
in quo ^ disposita tot lumina ^ in actus suos excubant. 

22 Deinde artam aetatem sibi dari non sinit : " omnes," 
inquit, " anni ® mei sunt. Nullum saeculum magnis 
ingeniis clusum est, nullum non cogitationi pervium 
tempus. Cum venerit dies ille, qui mixtum hoc 
divini humanique secernat, corpus '^ hie, ubi inveni, 
relinquam, ipse me dis^ reddam. Nee nunc sine 

23 illis sum, sed gravi terrenoque detineor." Per has 
mortahs aevi moras illi meliori vitae longiorique 
proluditur. Quemadmodum decern ^ mensibus tenet 
nos maternus uterus et praeparat non sibi, sed ^° illi 
loco, in quem videmur emitti iam idonei spiritum 
trahere et in aperto durare ; sic per hoc spatium, 
quod ab infantia patet in senectutem, in ahum 
maturescimus partum. Alia origo nos expectat, 

^ accolis Pincianus ; oculis BA ; incolis or occulis later MSS. 

* laetiusve tectis Windhaus ; laetius vectis BA. 

^ etiam Pincianus ; iam BA. 

* quo Schweighaeuser ; quod BA. 

* lumina Haase ; numina BA. ® anni Pine. ; ante BA. 

' corpus Pine. ; tempus BA. 

8 diis later MSS. ; diei BA. 

" decern later MSS. ; invicem BA. 

»» sed later MSS. ; et BA. 



which you must retrace with infinite trouble ! For 
such argumentation is nothing else than the sport 
of men who are skilfully juggling with each other. 
Tell me rather how closely in accord with nature it 
is to let one's mind reach out into the boundless 
universe ! The human soul is a great and noble 
thing ; it permits of no limits except those which ^' 
can be shared even by the gods. First of all, it does 
not consent to a lowly birthplace, like Ephesus or 
Alexandria, or any land that is even more thickly 
populated than these, and more richly spread with 
dwellings. The soul's homeland is the whole space 
that encircles the height and breadth of the firma- 
ment, the whole rounded dome within which lie land 
and sea, within which the upper air that sunders the 
human from the divine also unites them, and where 
all the sentinel stars are taking their turn on duty. 
Again, the soul will not put up with a narrow span 
of existence. " All the years," says the soul, " are 
mine ; no epoch is closed to great minds ; all Time 
is open for the progress of thought. When the day 
comes to separate the heavenly from its earthly 
blend, I shall leave the body here where I found it, 
and shall of my own vohtion betake myself to the 
gods. I am not apart from them now, but am merely 
detained in a heavy and earthly prison." These 
delays of mortal existence are a prelude to the longer 
and better life. As the mother's womb holds us for 
ten months, making us ready, not for the womb 
itself, but for the existence into which we seem to 
be sent forth when at last we are fitted to draw 
breath and live in the open ; just so, throughout the 
years extending between infancy and old age, we 
are making ourselves ready for another birth. A 
different beginning, a different condition, await us. 



alius rerum status. Nondum caelum nisi ex inter- 

24 vallo pati possumus ; proinde intrepidus horam illam 
decretoriam prospice : non est animo suprema, sed 
corpori. Quidquid circa te iacet rerum, tamquam 
hospitalis loci sarcinas specta : transeundum est. 

25 Excutit redeuntem natura sicut intrantem. Non 
licet plus efferre quam intuleris, immo etiam ex eo, 
quod ad vitam adtulisti, pars magna ponenda est : 
detrahetur tibi haec circumiecta, novissimum vela- 
mentum tui, cutis ; detrahetur caro et sufFusus 
sanguis discurrensque per totum ; detrahentur ossa 
nervique, firmamenta fluidorum ac labentium. 

26 Dies iste, quem tamquam extremum reformidas, 
aeterni natalis est. Depone onus ; quid cunctaris, 
tamquam non prius quoque relicto, in quo latebas, 
corpore exieris ? Haeres, reluctaris ; tum quoque 
magno nisu matris expulsus es. Gemis, ploras ; et 
hoc ipsum flere nascentis est, sed tunc debebat 
ignosci : rudis et imperitus omnium veneras. Ex 
maternorum viscerum calido mollique fomento 
emissum adflavit aura Hberior, deinde ofFendit durae 
manus tactus, tenerque adhuc et nullius rei gnarus 
obstipuisti inter ignota. 

27 Nunc tibi non est novum separari ab eo, cuius ante 
pars fueris ; aequo animo membra iam supervacua 
dimitte et istuc corpus inhabitatum diu pone. 

" A metaphor from the arena : decretoria were real 
decisive weapons with which death was faced, as opposed 
to Itisoria, " sham " weapons. Cf. Sen. Ep. cxvii. 25. 


We cannot yet, except at rare intervals, endure the 
light of heaven ; therefore, look forward without 
fearing to that appointed hour," — the last hour of 
the body but not of the soul. Survey everything 
that lies about you, as if it were luggage in a guest- 
chamber : you must travel on. Nature strips you 
as bare at your departure as at your entrance. 
You may take away no more than you brought in ; 
what is more, you must throw away the major 
portion of that which you brought with you into life : 
you will be stripped of the very skin which covers 
you — that which has been your last protection ; 
you will be stripped of the flesh, and lose the blood 
which is suffused and circulated through your body ; 
you will be stripped of bones and sinews, the frame- 
work of these transitory and feeble parts. 

That day, which you fear as being the end of all 
things, is the birthday of your eternity. Lay aside 
your burden — why delay ? — just as if you had not 
previously left the body which was your hiding- 
place ! You cling to your burden, you struggle ; at 
your birth also great effort was necessary on your 
mother's part to set you free. You weep and wail ; 
and yet this very weeping happens at birth also ; 
but then it was to be excused : for you came into 
the world wholly ignorant and inexperienced. When 
you left the warm and cherishing protection of your 
mother's womb, a freer air breathed into your face ; 
then you winced at the touch of a rough hand, and 
you looked in amaze at unfamiliar objects, still 
delicate and ignorant of all things. 

But now it is no new thing for you to be sundered 
from that of which you have previously been a part ; 
let go your already useless limbs with resignation and 
dispense with that body in which you have dwelt for 



Scindetur, obruetur, abolebitur. Quid contristaris ? 
Ita solet fieri : pereunt semper ^ velamenta nascen- 
tium. Quid ista sic diligis quasi tua ? Istis opertus 
es. Veniet, qui te revellat dies et ex contubernio 

28 foedi atque olidi ventris educat. Huic nunc quoque 
tu, quantum potes, subdue te voluptatique,^ nisi quae 
necessariis seriisque ^ cohaerebit ; alienus iam hinc 
altius aliquid sublimiusque meditare. Aliquando 
naturae tibi arcana retegentur, discutietur ista caligo 
et lux undique clara percutiet. 

Imaginare tecum, quantus ille sit fulgor tot si- 
deribus inter se lumen miscentibus ; nulla serenum 
umbra turbabit. Aequaliter splendebit omne caeli 
latus ; dies et nox aeris infimi vices sunt. Tunc in 
tenebris vixisse te dices, cum totam lucem et totus 
aspexeris, quam nunc per angustissimas oculorum vias 
obscure intueris. Et tamen admiraris iUam iam 
procul ; quid tibi videbitur divina lux, cum illam 
sue loco videris ? 

29 Haec cogitatio nihil sordidum animo subsidere 
sinit, nihil humile, nihil crudele. Deos rerum 
omnium esse testes ait. Illis nos adprobari, ilhs in 
futurum parari iubet et aeternitatem proponere. 
Quam qvii mente concepit, nuUos horret exercitus, 
non terretur tuba, nullis ad timorem minis agitur. 

^ semper Pincianus ; saepe BA. 

* subdue te voluptatique Bartsch and Hense ; subvoluptari- 
quae BA. 

* necessariis seriisque Hense ; necessariisque BA. 

" The departure from life is compared to the release from 
the womb. There is also possibly a double meaning implied 
in the word venter. 



so long. It will be torn asunder, buried out of sight, 
and wasted away. Why be downcast ? This is 
what ordinarily happens : when we are born, the 
afterbirth always perishes. Why love such a thing 
as if it were your own possession ? It was merely 
your covering. The day will come which will tear 
you forth and lead you away from the company of 
the foul and noisome womb. Withdraw from it now 
too " as much as you can, and withdraw from pleasure, 
except such as may be bound up with essential and 
important things ; estrange yourself from it even now, 
and ponder on something nobler and loftier. Some 
day the secrets of nature shall be disclosed to you, 
the haze will be shaken from your eyes, and the 
bright hght will stream in upon you from all sides. 

Picture to yourself how great is the glow when all 
the stars mingle their fires ; no shadows will disturb 
the clear sky. The whole expanse of heaven will 
shine evenly ; for day and night are interchanged 
only in the lowest atmosphere. Then you will say 
that you have lived in darkness, after you have seen, 
in your perfect state, the perfect light — that hght 
which now you behold darkly with vision that is 
cramped to the last degree. And yet, far off as it is, 
you already look upon it in wonder ; what do you 
think the heavenly hght will be when you have seen 
it in its proper sphere ? 

Such thoughts permit nothing mean to settle in 
the soul, nothing low, nothing cruel. They maintain 
that the gods are witnesses of everything. They 
order us to meet the gods' approval, to prepare 
ourselves to join them at some future time, and to 
plan for immortahty. He that has grasped this idea 
shrinks from no attacking army, is not terrified by 
the trumpet-blast, and is intimidated by no threats. 



30 Quidni non timeat qui mori sperat ? Is quoque,^ 
qui animum tamdiu iudicat man ere, quamdiu retine- 
tur corporis vinculo, solutum statim spargit, ut 
etiam post mortem utilis esse possit. Quamvis enim 
ipse ereptus sit oculis, tamen 

Multa viri virtus animo multusque recursat 
Gentis honos. 

Cogita, quantum nobis exempla bona prosint ; scies 
magnorum virorum non minus praesentiam esse 
utilem quam memoriam. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Quid ista circumspicis, quae tibi possunt fortasse 
evenire, sed possunt et non evenire ? Incendium 
dico, ruinam, alia, quae ^ nobis incidunt, non in- 
sidiantur ; ilia potius vide, ilia devita, quae ^ nos 
observant, quae captant. Rariores sunt* casus, 
etiam si graves, naufragium facere, vehiculo everti ; 
ab homine homini cotidianum periculum. Adversus 
hoc te expedi, hoc intentis oculis intuere. Nullum 
est malum frequentius, nullum pertinacius, nullum 

2 blandius. Ac ^ tempestas minatur antequam surgat, 
crepant aedificia antequam corruant, praenuntiat 

^ qui mori sperat ? is quoque Buecheler ; qui mori speriat. 
Se quoque BA. 

2 incendium . . . alia quae Pincianus ; incidentium . . . 
aliqua BA. 

' ilia de vita quae later MSS. ; ilia videvita ilia quae BA. 

* rariores sunt Gruter ; pari essunt BA. 

* ac Buecheler ; ab BA. 



How should it not be that a man feels no fear, if he 
looks forward to death ? He also who believes that 
the soul abides only as long as it is fettered in the 
body, scatters it abroad forthwith when dissolved, so 
that it may be useful even after death. For though 
he is taken from men's sight, still 

Often our thoughts run back to the hero, and often the glory 
Won by his race recurs to the mind. " 

Consider how much we are helped by good example ; 
you will thus understand that the presence of a noble 
man is of no less service than his memory. Farewell. 


Why are you looking about for troubles which may 
perhaps come your way, but which may indeed not 
come your way at all ? I mean fires, falling buildings, 
and other accidents of the sort that are mere events 
rather than plots against us. Rather beware and 
shun those troubles which dog our steps and reach 
out their hands against us. Accidents, though they 
may be serious, are few — such as being shipwrecked 
or thrown from one's carriage ; but it is from his 
fellow-man that a man's everyday danger comes. 
Equip yourself against that ; watch that with an 
attentive eye. There is no evil more frequent, no 
evil more persistent, no evil more insinuating. Even 
the storm, before it gathers, gives a warning ; houses 
crack before they crash ; and smoke is the forerunner 

" Vergil, Aen. iv. 3 f. 
* Compare this with the Seventh letter (vol. i.). 



fiunus incendium ; subita est ex homine pernicies et 
eo diligentius tegitur, quo propius accedit. 

Erras, si istorum tibi qui bccurrunt vultibus credis ; 
hominum effigies habent, animos ferarum, nisi quod 
illarum perniciosus ^ est primus incursus ; quos trans- 
iere, non quaerunt. Numquam enim illas ad nocen- 
dum nisi necessitas incitat ; aut ^ fame aut timore 
coguntur ad pugnam ; homini perdere hominem 

3 Tu tamen ita cogita, quod ex homine periculum 
sit, ut cogites, quod sit hominis officium. Alterum 
intuere, ne laedaris, alterum ne laedas. Commodis 
omnium laeteris, movearis incommodis et memineris, 

4 quae praestare debeas, quae cavere. Sic vivendo 
quid consequaris ? Non te ne noceant, sed ne 
fallant. Quantum potes autem, in philosophiam 
recede : ilia te sinu ^ suo proteget, in huius sacrario 
eris aut tutus aut tutior. Non arietant inter se nisi 

5 in eadem ambulantes via.* Ipsam autem philo- 
sophiam non debebis iactare ; multis fuit periculi 
causa insolenter tractata et contumaciter. Tibi vitia 
detrahat, non ahis exprobret. Non abhorreat a 
publicis moribus nee hoc agat, ut quicquid non facit, 
damnare videatur. Licet sapere sine pompa, sine 
invidia. Vale. 

^ perniciosus von Ian ; perniciosius BA. 

^ incitat : aut Buecheler ; inicit, hae aut BA. 

^ te sinu Erasmus ; te nisu BA. 

* via Madvig ; quia BA. 



of fire. But damage from man is instantaneous, and 
the nearer it comes the more carefully it is concealed. 

You are wrong to trust the countenances of those 
you meet. They have the aspect of men, but the 
souls of brutes ; the difference is that only beasts 
damage you at the first encounter ; those whom they 
have passed by they do not pursue. For nothing 
ever goads them to do harm except when need 
compels them : it is hunger or fear that forces them 
into a fight. But man delights to ruin man. 

You must, however, reflect thus what danger you 
run at the hands of man, in order that you may 
deduce what is the duty of man. Try, in your 
dealings with others, to harm not, in order that you 
be not harmed. You should rejoice with all in their 
joys and sympathize with them in their troubles, 
remembering what you should offer and what you 
should withhold. And what may you attain by 
living such a life ? Not necessarily freedom from 
harm at their hands, but at least freedom from 
deceit. In so far, however, as you are able, take 
refuge with philosophy : she will cherish you in her 
bosom, and in her sanctuary you shall be safe, or, at 
any rate, safer than before. People collide only 
when they are travelling the same path. But this 
very philosophy must never be vaunted by you ; for 
philosophy when employed with insolence and arrog- 
ance has been perilous to many. Let her strip off 
your faults, rather than assist you to decry the faults 
of others. Let her not hold aloof from the customs 
of mankind, nor make it her business to condemn 
whatever she herself does not do. A man may be 
wise without parade and without arousing enmity. 



Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 In Nomentanum meum fugi, quid putas ? Urbem ? 
Immo febrem et quidem subrepentem. lam manura 
mihi iniecerat. Medicus initia esse dicebat motis 
venis et incertis et naturalem turbantibus modum. 
Protinus itaque parari vehiculum iussi ; Paulina mea 
retinente exire perseveravi ; illud mihi ore erat 
domini mei Gallionis, qui cum in Achaia febrem 
habere coepisset, protinus navem ascendit clamitans 

2 non corporis esse, sed loci morbum. Hoc ego 
Paulinae meae dixi, quae mihi valitudinem meara 
commendat. Nam cum sciam ^ spiritum illius in 
meo verti, incipio, ut illi consulam, mihi consulere. 
Et cum me fortiorem senectus ad multa reddiderit, 
hoc beneficium aetatis amitto. Venit enim mihi in 
mentem, in hoc sene et adulescentem esse, cui 
parcitur. Itaque quoniam ego ab ilia non impetro, 
ut me fortius amet, a me^ impetrat ilia, ut me 

3 dihgentius amem. Indulgendum est enim honestis 
adfectibus ; et interdum, etiam si premunt causae, 
spiritus in honorem suorum vel cum tormento re- 
vocandus et in ipso ore retinendus est, cum bono 
viro vivendum sit non quamdiu iuvat sed quamdiu 

^ sciam later MSS. ; scias BA. 

^ a me was inserted by Gertz at this point ; Muretus 
placed it after ilia, 

° Pompeia Paulina, the second wife of Seneca ; cf. Tac. 
Ann. XV. 60. Though much younger than her husband, she 
was a model of devotion, and remained loyal to him through 
all the Neronian persecution. 

* Elder brother of Seneca, whose name before his adop- 
tion by Lucius Junius GaUio was Annaeus Novatus. He 
was governor of Achaia from a.d. July 1, 51 to July 1, 52. 



I have run off to my villa at Nomentum, for what 
purpose, do you suppose ? To escape the city ? 
No ; to shake oflf" a fever which was surely working 
its way into my system. It had already got a grip 
upon me. My physician kept insisting that when 
the circulation was upset and irregular, disturbing 
the natural poise, the disease was under way. I 
therefore ordered my carriage to be made ready 
at once, and insisted on departing, in spite of my 
wife Paulina's " efforts to stop me ; for I remembered 
my master Gallio's ^ words, when he began to develop 
a fever in Achaia and took ship at once, insisting that 
the disease was not of the body but of the place. 
That is what I remarked to my dear Paulina, who 
always urges me to take care of my health. I know 
that her very life-breath comes and goes with my 
own, and I am beginning, in my solicitude for her, 
to be solicitous for myself. And although old age 
has made me braver to bear many things, I am 
gradually losing this boon that old age bestows. For 
it comes into my mind that in this old man there is 
a youth also, and youth needs tenderness. There- 
fore, since I cannot prevail upon her to love me 
any more heroically, she prevails upon me to cherish 
myself more carefully. For one must indulge 
genuine emotions ; sometimes, even in spite of 
weighty reasons, the breath of life must be called 
back and kept at our very lips even at the price of 
great suffering, for the sake of those whom we hold 
dear ; because the good man should not live as long 

See Acts xviii. 11 fF., and DuiF, Three Dialogues of Seneca, 
p. xliii. 



oportet. Ille, qui non uxorem, non amicum tanti 
putat, ut diutius in vita commoretur, qui perse- 
verabit mori, delicatus est. 

Hoc quoque imperet sibi animus, ubi utilitas 
suorum exigit, nee tantum, si vult mori, sed si coepit, 

4 intermittat et suis se^ commodet. Ingentis animi 
est aliena causa ad vitam reverti, quod magni viri 
saepe fecerunt. Sed hoc quoque summae huma- 
nitatis existimo, senectutem suam, cuius maximus 
fructus est securior sui tutela et vitae usus animosior, 
attentius custodire,^ si scias alicui ^ tuorum esse dulce, 

5 utile, optabile. Habet praeterea in se non mediocre 
ista res gaudium et mercedem ; quid enim iucundius 
quam uxori tam carum esse, ut^ propter hoc tibi 
carior fias ? Potest itaque Paulina mea non tantum 
suum mihi timorem inputare, sed etiam meum. 

6 Quaeris ergo, quomodo mihi consilium profectionis 
cesserit ? Ut primum gravitatem urbis excessi et 
ilium odorem culinarum fumantium, quae motae 
quicquid pestiferi vaporis obferunt,^ cum pulvere 
effundunt, protinus mutatam valitudinem sensi. 
Quantum deinde adiectum putas viribus, postquam 
vineas attigi ? In pascuum emissus cibum meum 
invasi. Repetivi ergo iam me ; non permansit 
marcor ille corporis dubii et male cogitantis. Incipio 
toto animo studere. 

^ suis se later MSS. ; suis BA. 

2 attentius custodire (curare) later MSS, ; attentius BA. 

' alicui later MSS. ; aliquid BA. 

* ut later MSS. ; om. BA. 

' obferunt F. Gloeckner ; obruent BA. 



as it pleases him, but as long as he ought. He who 
does not value his wife, or his friend, highly enough 
to linger longer in life — he who obstinately persists 
in dying — is a voluptuary. 

The soul should also enforce this command upon 
itself whenever the needs of one's relatives require ; 
it should pause and humour those near and dear, not 
only when it desires, but even when it has begun, 
to die. It gives proof of a great heart to return to 
life for the sake of others ; and noble men have 
often done this. But this procedure also, I believe, 
indicates the highest type of kindness : that although 
the greatest advantage of old age is the opportunity 
to be more negligent regarding self-preservation and 
to use life more adventurously, one should watch over 
one's old age with still greater care if one knows 
that such action is pleasing, useful, or desirable in 
the eyes of a person whom one holds dear. This is 
also a source of no mean joy and profit ; for what 
is sweeter than to be so valued by one's wife that 
one becomes more valuable to oneself for this reason ? 
Hence my dear Paulina is able to make me respons- 
ible, not only for her fears, but also for my own. 

So you are curious to know the outcome of this pre- 
scription of travel ? As soon as I escaped from the 
oppressive atmosphere of the city, and from that 
awful odour of reeking kitchens which, when in 
use, pour forth a ruinous mess of steam and soot, I 
perceived at once that my health was mending. 
And how much stronger do you think I felt when 
I reached my vineyards ! Being, so to speak, let 
out to pasture, I regularly walked into my meals ! 
So I am my old self again, feeling now no wavering 
languor in my system, and no sluggishness in my 
brain. I am beginning to work with all my energy. 

VOL, III o 193 


7 Non multum ad hoc locus confert, nisi se sibi 
praestat animus, qui secretum in occupationibus 
mediis, si volet, habebit ; at ille, qui regiones eligit 
et otium captat, ubique, quo distringatur, inveniet. 
Nam Socraten querenti cuidam, quod nihil sibi pere- 
grinationes profuissent, respondisse ferunt : " non 
inmerito hoc tibi evenit ; tecum enim peregrina- 

8 baris." O quam bene cum quibusdam ageretur, si a 
se aberrarent ! Nunc premunt ^ se ipsi,^ sollicitant, 
corrumpunt, territant. Quid prodest mare traicere 
et urbes mutare ? Si vis ista, quibus urgueris, 
effugere, non aliubi sis oportet, sed alius. Puta 
venisse te Athenas, puta Rhodon ; elige arbitrio tuo 
civitatem : quid ad rem pertinet, quos ilia mores 
habeat ? Tuos adferes. 

9 Divitias iudicabis bonum : torquebit te paupertas, 
quod est miserrimum, falsa. Quamvis enim multiun 
possideas, tamen, quia aliquis plus habet, tanto ' 
tibi videris defici, quanto vinceris. Honores iudi- 
cabis ^ bonum : male te habebit ille consul factus, 
ille etiam refectus, invidebis,^ quotiens aliquem in 
fastis saepius legeris. Tantus erit ambitionis furor, 
ut nemo tibi post te videatur, si aliquis ante te 

10 fuerit. Maximum malum iudicabis mortem, cum in ^ 
ilia nihil sit mali, nisi quod ante ipsam est, timeri. 

^ premunt Bartsch ; primum BA. 

* ipsi Hense ; ipsos BA. 

' tanto later MSS. ; quanto BA. 

* iudicabis Cod. Velz. ; iudicatus BA. 

^ invidebis later MSS. ; videberis BA. 

* cum in later MSS. ; cum BA. 

" Cf. Ep. X. 1 " Mecum loquor." " Cave, rogo, et diligenter 
adtende ; cum homine male loqueris." 


But the mere place avails little for this purpose, 
unless the mind is fully master of itself, and can, 
at its pleasure, find seclusion even in the midst of 
business ; the man, however, who is always selecting 
resorts and hunting for leisure, will find something 
to distract his mind in every place. Socrates is 
reported to have replied, when a certain person com- 
plained of having received no benefit from his 
travels : "It serves you right ! You travelled in 
your own company ! " <• O what a blessing it would 
be for some men to wander away from themselves ! 
As it is, they cause themselves vexation, worry, 
demoralization, and fear ! What profit is there in 
crossing the sea and in going from one city to 
another ? If you would escape your troubles, you 
need not another place but another personality. 
Perhaps you have reached Athens, or perhaps 
Rhodes ; choose any state you fancy, how does it 
matter what its character may be ? You will be 
bringing to it your own. 

Suppose that you hold wealth to be a good : 
poverty will then distress you, and, — which is most 
pitiable, — it will be an imaginary poverty. For you 
may be rich, and nevertheless, because your neigh- 
bour is richer, you suppose yourself to be poor 
exactly by the same amount in which you fall short 
of your neighbour. You may deem official position 
a good ; you will be vexed at another's appointment 
or re-appointment to the consulship ; you will be 
jealous whenever you see a name several times in 
the state records. Your ambition will be so frenzied 
that you will regard yourself last in the race if there 
is anyone in front of you. Or you may rate death 
as the worst of evils, although there is really no evil 
therein except that which precedes death's coming — 



Exterrebunt te non tantum pericula, sed suspiciones ; 
vanis semper agitaberis. Quid enim proderit 

evasisse tot urbes 
Argolicas mediosque fugam tenuisse per hostis ? 

Ipsa pax timores sumministrabit. Ne tutis quidem 
habebitur fides consternata semel mente ; quae ubi 
consuetudinem pavoris inprovidi fecit, etiam ad tute- 
1am salutis suae inhabilis est.^ Non enim vitat, sed 
fugit. Magis autem periculis patemus aversi. 

11 Gravissimum iudicabis malum, aliquem ex his, 
quos amabis, amittere, cum interim hoc tam ineptum 
erit quam flere, quod arboribus amoenis et domum 
tuam ornantibus decidant folia. Quicquid te delec- 
tat, aeque vide ut flores virides ; dum virent, utere ; ^ 
alium alio die casus excutiet. Sed quemadmodum 
frondium iactura facilis est, quia renascuntur, sic 
istorum, quos amas quosque oblectamenta vitae putas 
esse, damnum, quia reparantur, etiam si non renas- 

12 cuntur. " Sed non erunt idem." Ne tu quidem idem 
eris. Omnis dies, omnis hora te mutat ; sed in aliis 
rapina facilius apparet, hie latet, quia non ex aperto 
fiet. Alii auferuntur, at ipsi nobis furto subducimur. 
Horum nihil cogitabis nee remedia vulneribus op- 
pones, sed ipse tibi seres soUicitudinum causas alia 

1 est later MSS. ; es BA. 
^ ut . . . utere Haase ; ut videres dum I x)ireret \ "^^^ ^^' 

" Vergil, Aen. ill. 282 f. 


fear. You will be frightened out of your wits, not 
only by real, but by fancied dangers, and will be 
tossed for ever on the sea of illusion. What benefit 
will it be to 

Have threaded all the towns of Argolis, 

A fugitive through midmost press of foes ? " 

For peace itself will furnish further apprehension. 
Even in the midst of safety you will have no con- 
fidence if your mind has once been given a shock ; 
once it has acquired the habit of blind panic, it is 
incapable of providing even for its own safety. For it 
does not avoid danger, but runs away. Yet we are 
more exposed to danger when we turn our backs. 

You may judge it the most grievous of ills to lose 
any of those you love ; while all the same this 
would be no less foolish than weeping because the 
trees which charm your eye and adorn your home 
lose their foliage. Regard everything that pleases 
you as if it were a flourishing plant ; make the most 
of it while it is in leaf, for different plants at different 
seasons must fall and die. But just as the loss of 
leaves is a light thing, because they are born afresh, 
so it is with the loss of those whom you love and 
regard as the delight of your life ; for they can be 
replaced even though they cannot be born afresh. 
" New friends, however, will not be the same." No, 
nor will you yourself remain the same ; you change 
with every day and every hour. But in other men you 
more readily see what time plunders ; in your own 
case the change is hidden, because it will not take 
place visibly. Others are snatched from sight ; we 
ourselves are being stealthily filched away from our- 
selves. You will not think about any of these prob- 
lems, nor will you apply remedies to these wounds. 
You will of your own volition be sowing a crop of 



sperando, alia desperando. Si sapis,^ alterum alteri 
misce ^ : nee speraveris sine desperatione nee de- 
speraveris ^ sine spe. 

13 Quid per se peregrinatio prodesse cuiquam potuit ? 
Non voluptates ilia temperavit, non cupiditates re- 
frenavit, non iras repressit, non indomitos amoris 
Impetus fregit, nulla denique animo mala eduxit. 
Non indicium dedit, non discussit errorem, sed 
ut puerum ignota mirantem ad breve tempus 

14 rerum aliqua novitate detinuit. Ceterum incon- 
stantia mentis, quae maxime aegra est, lacessit, 
mobiliorem levioremque reddit ipsa iactatio. Itaque, 
quae petierant cupidissime loca, cupidius deserunt et 
avium modo transvolant citiusque quam venerant, 

15 abeunt. Peregrinatio notitiam dabit gentium, novas 
tibi montium formas ostendet, invisitata spatia cam- 
porum et inriguas perennibus aquis valles, alicuius 
fluminis sub observatione naturam, sive ut Nilus 
aestivo incremento tumet, sive ut Tigris eripitur ex 
ocuHs et acto per occulta cursu integrae magnitudini 
redditur, sive ut Maeander, poetarum omnium exer- 
citatio et ludus, implicatur crebris anfractibus et 
saepe in vicinum alveo suo admotus, antequam sibi 
influat, flectitur ; ceterum neque meliorem faciet 
neque saniorem. 

16 Inter studia versandum est et inter auctores 
sapientiae, ut quaesita discamus, nondum inventa 

^ sapis later MSS. ; satis BA. 

* misce later MSS. ; misces BA. 

' sine desperatione nee desperaveris later MSS. ; sine 
speratione nee speraveris BA. 

" See Index of Proper Names. 

* Although Seneca was deeply interested in such matters, 
as is proved by Ep. Ixxix., the Naturales Quaestiones, and 
an early work on the geography of Egypt. 



trouble by alternate hoping and despairing. If you 
are wise, mingle these two elements : do not hope 
without despair, or despair without hope. 

What benefit has travel of itself ever been able to 
give anyone ? No restraint upon pleasure, no brid- 
ling of desire, no checking of bad temper, no crushing 
of the wild assaults of passion, no opportunity to rid 
the soul of evil. Travelling cannot give us judgment, 
or shake off our errors ; it merely holds our attention 
for a moment by a certain novelty, as children pause to 
wonder at something unfamiliar. Besides, it irri- 
tates us, through the wavering of a mind which is 
suffering from an acute attack of sickness ; the 
very motion makes it more fitful and nervous. Hence 
the spots we had sought most eagerly we quit 
still more eagerly, hke birds that flit and are off 
as soon as they have alighted. What travel will 
give is familiarity with other nations : it will reveal 
to you mountains of strange shape, or unfamiliar 
tracts of plain, or valleys that are watered by ever- 
floAving springs, or the characteristics of some river 
that comes to our attention. We observe how the 
Nile rises and swells in summer, or how the Tigris 
disappears, runs underground through hidden spaces, 
and then appears with unabated sweep ; or how the 
Maeander," that oft-rehearsed theme and plaything 
of the poets, turns in frequent bendings, and often 
in winding comes close to its own channel before 
resuming its course. But this sort of information 
will not make better or sounder men of us.* 

We ought rather to spend our time in study, and 
to cultivate those who are masters of wisdom, learning 
something which has been investigated, but not 



quaeramus ; sic eximendus animus ex miserrima 
servitute in libertatem adseritur. Quamdiu quidem 
nescieris, quid fugiendum quid petendum, quid 
necessarium quid supervacuum, quid iustum quid 
iniustum ^ sit, non erit hoc peregrinari, sed errare. 

17 Nullam ^ tibi op em feret iste discursus, peregrinaris 
enim cum adfectibus tuis et mala te tua sequuntur. 
Utinam quidem sequerentur. Longius abessent ; 
nunc fers ilia, non ducis. Itaque ubique te premunt 
et paribus incommodis urunt.^ Medicina aegro, non 

18 regio, quaerenda est. Fregit aliquis crus aut extorsit 
articulum : non vehiculum navemque conscendit, sed 
advocat medicum, ut fracta pars iungatur, ut luxata 
in locum reponatur. Quid ergo ? Animum tot locis 
fractum et extortum credis locorum mutatione posse 
sanari ? Maius est istud malum, quam ut gestatione 

19 curetur. Peregrinatio non facit medicum, non ora- 
tor em, nulla ars loco discitur. 

Quid ergo ? Sapientia, ars * omnium maxima, in 
itinere colligitur ? Nullum est, mihi crede, iter, 
quod te ^ extra cupiditates, extra iras, extra metus 
sistat ; aut si quod esset, agmine facto gens illuc 
humana pergeret, Tamdiu ista urguebunt mala 
macerabuntque per terras ac maria vagum, quamdiu 

20 malorum gestaveris causas. Fugam tibi non prodesse 

^ iniustum Cornelissen ; honestum BA. 

* nullam later MSS. ; nullum BA. 

^ urunt later MSS. ; erunt BA. 

* sapientia, ars Hense ; sapientia, res BA. 

* te Erasmus ; se BA. 



settled ; by this means the mind can be reheved of 
a most wretched serfdom, and won over to freedom. 
Indeed, as long as you are ignorant of what you 
should avoid or seek, or of what is necessary or super- 
fluous, or of what is right or wrong, you will not be 
travelling, but merely wandering. There will be no 
benefit to you in this hurrying to and fro ; for you 
are travelling with your emotions and are followed 
by your afflictions. Would that they were indeed 
following you ! In that case, they would be farther 
away ; as it is, you are carrying and not leading them. 
Hence they press about you on all sides, continually 
chafing and annoying you. It is medicine, not 
scenery, for which the sick man must go a-searching. 
Suppose that someone has broken a leg or dislocated 
a joint : he does not take carriage or ship for other 
regions, but he calls in the physician to set the 
fractured hmb, or to move it back to its proper 
place in the socket. What then ? When the spirit 
is broken or wrenched in so many places, do you 
think that change of place can heal it ? The com- 
plaint is too deep-seated to be cured by a journey. 
Travel does not make a physician or an orator ; no 
art is acquired by merely living in a certain place. 

Where lies the truth, then ? Can wisdom, the 
greatest of all the arts, be picked up on a journey ? 
I assure you, travel as far as you like, you can never 
establish yourself beyond the reach of desire, beyond 
the reach of bad temper, or beyond the reach of 
fear ; had it been so, the human race would long 
ago have banded together and made a pilgrimage to 
the spot. Such ills, as long as you carry with you 
their causes, will load you down and worry you to 
skin and bone in your wanderings over land and sea. 
Do you wonder that it is of no use to run away 



rairaris ? Tecum sunt, quae fugis. Te igitur emenda, 
onera tibi detrahe et demenda ^ desideria intra 
salutarem ^ modum contine. Omnem ex animo 
erade nequitiam. Si vis peregrinationes habere 
iucundas, comitem tuum sana. Haerebit tibi avaritia, 
quamdiu avaro sordidoque convixeris ; haerebit 
tumor ,^ quamdiu superbo conversaberis. Numquam 
saevitiam in tortoris contubernio pones. Incendent 

21 libidines tuas adulterorum sodalicia. Si velis vitiis 
exui, longe a vitiorum exemplis recedendum est. 
Avarus, corruptor, saevus, fraudulentus, multum 
nocituri, si prope a te fuissent, intra te sunt. 

Ad mehores transi : cum Catonibus vive, cum 
Laelio, cum Tuberone. Quod si convivere etiam 
Graecis iuvat, cum Socrate, cum Zenone versare ; 
alter te docebit mori, si necesse erit, alter, antequam 

22 necesse erit. Vive cum Chrysippo, cum Posidonio : 
hi tibi tradent humanorum divinorumque notitiam, 
hi iubebunt in opere esse nee tantum scite loqui et 
in oblectationem audientium verba iactare, sed ani- 
mum indurare et adversus minas erigere. Unus est 
enim huius vitae fluctuantis et turbidae portus 
eventura contemnere, stare fidenter ac paratum * tela 
fortunae adverso pectore excipere, non latitantem nee 

23 tergiversantem. Magnanimos nos natura produxit et 
ut quibusdam animalibus ferum dedit, quibusdam 

^ demenda Hense ; emenda BA. 

^ salutarem, Haase ; salutem BA. 

* haerebit tumor later MSS. ; habehit timor BA. 

* ac paratum GemoU ; ad partum BA. 

" These men are patterns or interpreters of the virtues. 
The first-named three represent courage, justice, and self- 
restraint respectively. Socrates is the ideal wise man, Zeno, 
Chrysippus, and Posidonius are in turn the founder, the 
classifier, and the modernizer of Stoicism. 



from them ? That from which you are running, is 
within you. Accordingly, reform your own self, get 
the burden off your own shoulders, and keep within 
safe hmits the cravings which ought to be removed. 
Wipe out from your soul all trace of sin. If you 
would enjoy your travels, make healthy the com- 
panion of your travels. As long as this companion 
is avaricious and mean, greed will stick to you ; and 
while you consort with an overbearing man, your 
puffed-up ways will also stick close. Live with a 
hangman, and you will never be rid of your cruelty. 
If an adulterer be your club-mate, he will kindle the 
baser passions. If you would be stripped of your 
faults, leave far behind you the patterns of the 
faults. The miser, the swindler, the bully, the cheat, 
who will do you much harm merely by being near 
you, are within you. 

Change therefore to better associations : live with 
the Catos, with Laelius, with Tubero. Or, if you 
enjoy living with Greeks also, spend your time with 
Socrates and with Zeno : the former will show you 
how to die if it be necessary ; the latter how to die 
before it is necessary. Live with Chrysippus, with 
Posidonius : "• they will make you acquainted with 
things earthly and things heavenly ; they will bid 
you work hard over something more than neat turns 
of language and phrases mouthed forth for the 
entertainment of listeners ; they will bid you be 
stout of heart and rise superior to threats. The 
only harbour safe from the seething storms of this 
life is scorn of the future, a firm stand, a readiness 
to receive Fortune's missiles full in the breast, neither 
skulking nor turning the back. Nature has brought 
us forth brave of spirit, and, as she has implanted in 
certain animals a spirit of ferocity, in others craft, 



subdolum, quibusdam pavidum, ita nobis gloriosum 
et excelsum spiritum, quaerentem ubi honestissime, 
non ubi tutissime vivat, simillimum mundo, quern 
quantum mortalium passibus ^ licet, sequitur aemula- 
turque. Profert se, laudari et aspici credit. Dominus^ 

24 omnium est, supra omnia est ; itaque nulli se rei 
summittat, nihil illi videatur grave, nihil quod virum 

Terribiles visu formae letumque labosque ; 
minime quidem, si quis rectis oculis intueri ilia 
possit et tenebras perrumpere. Multa per noctem 
habita terrori dies vertit ad risum. " Terribiles visu 
formae letumque labosque " : egregie Vergilius 
noster non ^ re dixit terribiles esse, sed visu, id est 

25 videri, non esse* Quid, inquam, in istis est tam 
formidabile quam fama vulgavit ? Quid est, obsecro 
te, Lucili, cur timeat laborem vir, mortem homo ? 
Totiens mihi occurrunt isti, qui non putant fieri posse 
quicquid facere non possunt, et aiunt nos loqui maiora 

26 quam quae humana natura sustineat. At quanto 
ego de illis melius existimo ! Ipsi quoque haec 
possunt facere, sed nolunt. Denique quem umquam 
ista destituere temptantem ? Cui non faciliora ap- 
paruere in actu ? Non quia difficilia sunt, non 
audemus, sed quia non audemus, difficilia sunt. 

27 Si tamen exemplum desideratis, accipite Socraten, 

^ passibus later MSS. ; passus BA. 

* dominus later MSS. ; om. BA. 

^ non later MSS. ; in BA. 

* esse later MSS. ; posse BA. 

« Aeneid, vi. 277. 


in others terror, so she has gifted us with an aspiring 
and lofty spirit, which prompts us to seek a hfe of 
the greatest honour, and not of the greatest security, 
that most resembles the spirit of the universe, which 
it follows and imitates as far as our mortal steps 
permit. This spirit thrusts itself forward, confident 
of commendation and esteem. It is superior to all, 
monarch of all it surveys ; hence it should be sub- 
servient to nothing, finding no task too heavy, and 
nothing strong enough to weigh down the shoulders 
of a man. 

Shapes dread to look upon, of toil or death « 

are not in the least dreadful, if one is able to look 
upon them with unflinching gaze, and is able to 
pierce the shadows. Many a sight that is held 
a terror in the night-time, is turned to ridicule by 
day. " Shapes dread to look upon, of toil or death " : 
our Vergil has excellently said that these shapes are 
dread, not in reality, but only " to look upon " — in 
other words, they seem terrible, but are not. And 
in these visions what is there, I say, as fear-inspiring 
as rumour has proclaimed? Why, pray, my dear 
Lucilius, should a man fear toil, or a mortal death ? 
Countless cases occur to my mind of men who think 
that what they themselves are unable to do is im- 
possible, who maintain that we utter words which 
are too big for man's nature to carry out. But how 
much more highly do I think of these men ! They can 
do these things, but decline to do them. To whom 
that ever tried have these tasks proved false ? To 
what man did they not seem easier in the doing ? 
Our lack of confidence is not the result of difficulty ; 
the difficulty comes from our lack of confidence. 
If, however, you desire a pattern, take Socrates, 



perpessicium senem, per omnia aspera iactatum, in- 
victum tamen et paupertate, quam graviorem illi 
domestica onera faciebant, et laboribus, quos mili- 
tares quoque pertulit. Quibus ille domi exercitus 
est,^ sive uxorem eius reminiscimur ^ moribus feram, 
lingua petulantem, sive liberos indociles et matri 
quam patri similiores. Si vere reputes,^ aut in bello 
fuit aut in tyrannide aut in libertate bellis ac tyrannis 

28 saeviore. Viginti et septem annis pugnatum est ; post 
finita arma triginta tyrannis noxae dedita est ci vitas, 
ex quibus plerique inimici erant. Novissima damnatio 
est sub gravissimis nominibus * impleta : obiecta est 
et religionum violatio et iuventutis corruptela, quam 
inmittere in deos, in patres, in rem publicam dictus 
est. Post haec career et venenum. Haec usque eo 
animum Socratis non moverant, ut ne vultum quidem 
moverent. O illam ^ mirabilem laudem et singula- 
rem ! Usque ad extremum nee hilariorem quisquam 
nee tristiorem Socraten vidit. Aequalis fuit in tanta 
inaequalitate fortunae. 

29 Vis alterum exemplum ? AccipehuncM.Catonem 
recentiorem, cum quo et infestius fortuna egit et 
pertinacius. Cui cum omnibus locis obstitisset, novis- 

1 est later MSS. ; om. BA. 

^ reminiscimur added by Hense. 

' reputes added by Hense. 

* nominibus Lipsius ; hominibus BA. 

' moverent. o illam Buecheler ; moverint. Illam BA. 

" At first a sculptor, then an independent seeker after 
truth, whose wants were reduced to a minimum. Husband 
of the shrewish Xanthippe and father of the dull and worth- 
less Lamprocles. Brave soldier at Potidaea, Delium, and 



a long-suffering old man, who was sea-tossed amid 
every hardship and yet was unconquered both by 
poverty (which his troubles at home made more 
burdensome) and by toil, including the drudgery of 
military service. He was much tried at home, 
whether we think of his wife, a woman of rough 
manners and shrewish tongue, or of the children 
whose intractability showed them to be more like 
their mother than their father .** And if you consider 
the facts, he lived either in time of war, or under 
tyrants, or under a democracy, which is more cruel 
than wars and tyrants. The war lasted for twenty- 
seven years ; ^ then the state became the victim of 
the Thirty Tyrants, of whom many were his personal 
enemies. At the last came that climax of condemna- 
tion under the gravest of charges : they accused him 
of disturbing the state religion and corrupting the 
youth,'' and declared that this wrong influence was 
exerted against the gods, against the council, and 
against the state in general. Next came the prison, 
and the cup of poison.*^ But all these measures 
changed the soul of Socrates so little that they did 
not even change his features. What wonderful and 
rare distinction ! He maintained this attitude up to 
the very end, and no man ever saw Socrates too 
much elated or too much depressed. Amid all the 
disturbance of Fortune, he was undisturbed. 

Do you desire another case ? Take that of the 
younger Marcus Cato, with whom Fortune dealt 
in a more hostile and more persistent fashion. But 
he withstood her, on all occasions, and in his last 

* 431-404 B.C. (the Peloponnesian War). 
" See Plato's Apology, 23 d. They had previously aimed 
at him a law forbidding the teaching of dialectic. 
^ 399 B.c, 



sime et in morte, ostendit tamen virum fortem posse 
invita fortuna vivere, invita mori, Tota illi aetas 
aut in armis est exacta civilibus aut in toga^ con- 
cipiente iam civile bellum. Et hunc licet dicas non 
minus quam Socraten in servis se libertati addixisse,^ 
nisi forte Cn. Pompeium et Caesarem et Crassum 

30 putas libertatis socios fuisse. Nemo mutatum Cato- 
nem totiens mutata re publica vidit : eundem se 
in omni statu praestitit, in praetura, in repulsa, in 
accusatione, in provincia, in contione, in exercitu, in 
morte. Denique in ilia rei publicae trepidatione, 
cum illinc Caesar esset decem legionibus pugnacis- 
simis subnixus, totis exterarum gentium praesidiis, 
hinc Cn. Pompeius, satis unus adversus omnia, cum 
alii ad Caesarem inclinarent, alii ad Pompeium, 

31 solus Cato fecit aliquas et rei publicae partes. Si 
animo complecti volueris illius imaginem temporis, 
videbis illinc plebem et omne erectum ad res novas 
vulgum, hinc optumates et equestrem ordinem, 
quicquid erat in civitate sancti et electi, duos in 
medio relictos, rem publicam et Catonem. 

Miraberis, inquam, cum animadverteris 

Atriden * Priamumque et saevom ambobus Achillen. 

32 Utrumque enim improbat, utrumque exarmat. Hanc 
fert de utroque sententiam : ait se, si Caesar vicerit, 

^ in toga Kronenberg ; intacta BA. 

* in servis se libertati addixisse, suggested by Hense ; 
inseruisse dixisse BA. 

' Atriden MSS. ; Atridas Vergil. 

" Triumvirs in 60 b.c. and rivals in acquiring unconstitu- 
tional power. 
' 54 B.C. 



moments, at the point of death, showed that a 
brave man can hve in spite of Fortune, can die in 
spite of her. His whole life was passed either in 
civil warfare, or under a political regime which was 
soon to breed civil war. And you may say that he, 
just as much as Socrates, declared allegiance to 
liberty in the midst of slavery — unless perchance 
you think that Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus * were 
the allies of liberty ! No one ever saw Cato change, 
no matter how often the state changed : he kept 
himself the same in all circumstances — in the praetor- 
ship,'' in defeat, under accusation, <' in his province, 
on the platform, in the army, in death. Further- 
more, when the republic was in a crisis of terror, 
when Caesar was on one side with ten embattled 
legions at his call, aided by so many foreign nations, 
and when Pompey was on the other, satisfied to 
stand alone against all comers, and when the citizens 
were leaning towards either Caesar or Pompey, Cato 
alone established a definite party for the Republic. 
If you would obtain a mental picture of that period, 
you may imagine on one side the people and the 
whole proletariat eager for revolution — on the other 
the senators and knights, the chosen and honoured 
men of the commonwealth ; and there were left 
between them but these two — the Republic and 

I tell you, you will marvel when you see 

Atreus' son, and Priam, and Achilles, wroth at both.** 

Like Achilles, he scorns and disarms each faction. 
And this is the vote which he casts concerning them 

" Perhaps a reference to his mission in Cyprus (58-56 b.c), 
and his subsequent arraignment by Clodius. 
<* Vergil, Aen. i. 458. 

VOL. HI P 209 


moriturum, si Pompeius, exulaturum. Quid habe- 
bat, quod timeret, qui ipse ^ sibi et victo et victori 
constituerat, quae constituta esse ab hostibus ira- 
tissimis poterant ? Periit itaque ex decreto suo. 

33 Vides posse homines laborem pati : per medias 
Africae solitudines pedes duxit exercitum. Vides 
posse tolerari sitim : in collibus arentibus sine ullis 
inpedimentis victi exercitus reliquias trahens inopiam 
umoris loricatus tulit et, quotiens aquae fuerat 
occasio, novissimus bibit. Vides honorem et notam 
posse contemni : eodem quo repulsus est die in 
comitio pila lusit. Vides posse non timeri potentiam 
superiorum : et Pompeium et Caesarem, quorum 
nemo alterum ofFendere audebat nisi ut alterum 
demereretur, simul provocavit. Vides tarn mortem 
posse contemni quam exilium : et exiliura sibi indixit 
et mortem et interim bellum. 

34 Possumus itaque adversus ista tantum habere 
animi, Ubeat modo subducere iugo coUum. In primis 
autem respuendae voluptates ; enervant et efTe- 
minant et multura petunt, multum autem a fortuna 
petendum est. Deinde spernendae ^ opes : auctora- 
menta sunt servitutum. Aurum et argentum et 
quicquid aHud feUces domos onerat, reUnquatur ; 
non potest gratis constare Ubertas. Hanc si magno 
aestimas, omnia parvo aestimanda sunt. Vale. 

^ ipse Hense ; id BA. 
^ spernendae later MSS. ; sperandae BA. 

" At Utica, in 46 b.c. 


both : " If Caesar wins, I slay myself; if Pompey, 
1 go into exile." What was there for a man to fear 
who, whether in defeat or in victory, had assigned to 
himself a doom which might have been assigned to 
him by his enemies in their utmost rage ? So he 
died by his own decision. 

You see that man can endure toil : Cato, on foot, 
led an army through African deserts. You see that 
thirst can be endured : he marched over sun-baked 
hills, dragging the remains of a beaten army and 
with no train of supplies, undergoing lack of water 
and wearing a heavy suit of armour ; always the last 
to drink of the few springs which they chanced to 
find. You see that honour, and dishonour too, can 
be despised : for they report that on the very day 
when Cato was defeated at the elections, he played a 
game of ball. You see also that man can be free from 
fear of those above him in rank : for Cato attacked 
Caesar and Pompey simultaneously, at a time when 
none dared fall foul of the one without endeavouring 
to oblige the other. You see that death can be 
scorned as well as exile : Cato inflicted exile upon 
himself and finally death," and war all the while. 

And so, if only we are willing to withdraw our necks 
from the yoke, we can keep as stout a heart against 
such terrors as these. But first and foremost, we 
must reject pleasures ; they render us weak and 
womanish ; they make great demands upon us, and, 
moreover, cause us to make great demands upon 
Fortune. Second, we must spurn wealth : wealth is 
the diploma of slavery. Abandon gold and silver, 
and whatever else is a burden upon our richly- 
furnished homes ; liberty cannot be gained for 
nothing. If you set a high value on liberty, you 
must set a low value on everything else. Farewell. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Quae observanda tibi sint, ut tutior vivas, dicam. 
Tu tamen sic audias censeo ista praecepta, quomodo 
si tibi praeciperem, qua ratione bonam valitudinem 
in Ardeatino tuereris. 

Considera, quae sint, quae hominem in perniciem 
hominis instigent : invenies spem, invidiam, odium, 

2 metum, contemptum. Ex omnibus istis adeo levis- 
simum est contemptus, ut multi in illo remedii causa 
delituerint. Quem quis contemnit, violat ^ sine 
dubio, sed transit ; nemo homini contempto per- 
tinaciter, nemo diligenter nocet. Etiam in acie 

3 iacens praeteritur, cum stante pugnatur. Spem in- 
proborum vitabis, si nihil habueris, quod cupiditatem 
alienam et inprobam inritet, si nihil insigne possederis. 
Concupiscuntur enim etiam parva, si notabilia sunt, 
si rara.^ 

Invidiam efFugies, si te non ingesseris oculis, si 
bona tua non iactaveris, si scieris in sinu gaudere. 

4 Odium aut est ^ ex ofFensa : hoc vitabis neminem 
lacessendo ; aut gratuitum : a quo te sensus com- 
munis tuebitur. Fuit hoc multis periculosum ; qui- 
dam odium habuerunt nee inimicum, Illud, ne 
timearis, praestabit tibi et fortunae mediocritas et 

^ violat Buecheler ; vincit BA. 

* This is Madvig's conjecture ; etiam pars innotarum 
sunt, sic raro BA. 

* aut est Haase ; autem BA. 




I shall now tell you certain things to which you 
should pay attention in order to live more safely. 
Do you however, — such is my judgment, — hearken 
to my precepts just as if I were counselling you to 
keep safe your health in your country-place at Ardea, 

Reflect on the things which goad man into de- 
stroying man : you will find that they are hope, 
envy, hatred, fear, and contempt. Now, of all these, 
contempt is the least harmful, so much so that many 
have skulked behind it as a sort of cure. When a 
man despises you, he works you injury, to be sure, 
but he passes on ; and no one persistently or of set 
purpose does hurt to a person whom he despises. 
Even in battle, prostrate soldiers are neglected : 
men fight with those who stand their ground. And 
you can avoid the envious hopes of the wicked so 
long as you have nothing which can stir the evil 
desires of others, and so long as you possess nothing 
remarkable. For people crave even little things, if 
these catch the attention or are of rare occurrence. 

You will escape envy if you do not force yourself 
upon the pubhc view, if you do not boast your 
possessions, if you understand how to enjoy things 
privately. Hatred comes either from running foul 
of others : and this can be avoided" by never pro- 
voking anyone ; or else it is uncalled for : and 
common-sense « will keep you safe from it. Yet it 
has been dangerous to many ; some people have 
been hated without having had an enemy. As to 
not being feared, a moderate fortune and an easy 
" i.e., tact. 



ingenii lenitas ; eum esse te homines sciant, quern 
ofFendere sine periculo possint ; reconciliatio tua et 
facilis sit et certa. Timeri autem tam domi molestum 
est quam foris, tam a servis quam a liberis. Nulli 
non ad nocendum satis virium est. Adice nunc, 
quod qui timetur, timet ; nemo potuit terribilis 
esse secure. 

5 Contemptus superest, cuius modum in sua potes- 
tate habet, qui ilium sibi adiunxit, qui contemnitur 
quia voluit, non quia debuit. Huius incommodum et 
artes bonae discutiunt et amicitiae eorum, qui apud 
aliquem potentem potentes sunt, quibus adplicari 
expediet, non inpHcari, ne pluris remedium quam 

6 periculum constet. Nihil tamen aeque proderit quam 
quiescere et minimum cum aliis loqui, plurimum 
secum. Est quaedam dulcedo sermonis, quae inrepit 
et eblanditur ^ et non aliter quam ebrietas aut amor 
secreta producit. Nemo quod audierit, tacebit. 
Nemo quantum audierit, loquetur. Qui rem non 
tacuerit, non tacebit auctorem. Habet unusquisque 
aliquem, cui tantum credat, quantum ipsi creditum 
est. Ut garrulitatem suam custodiat et contentus 
sit unius auribus, populum faciet, si ^ quod modo 
secretum erat, rumor est. 

7 Securitatis magna portio est nihil inique facere. 
Confusam vitam et perturbatam inpotentes agunt ; 

* inrepit et eblanditur Pincianus ; inrepitete blanditur BA. 
* si Buecheler ; sic BA. 


disposition will guarantee you that ; men should 
know that you are the sort of person who can be 
offended without danger ; and your reconcihation 
should be easy and sure. Moreover, it is as trouble- 
some to be feared at home as abroad : it is as bad 
to be feared by a slave as by a gentleman. For 
every one has strength enough to do you some harm. 
Besides, he who is feared, fears also ; no one has 
been able to arouse terror and live in peace of mind. 

Contempt remains to be discussed. He who has 
made this quality an adjunct of his own personality, 
who is despised because he wishes to be despised 
and not because he must be despised, has the measure 
of contempt under his control. Any inconveniences 
in this respect can be dispelled by honourable occupa- 
tions ^nd by friendships with men who have influence 
with an influential person ; with these men it will 
profit you to engage but not to entangle yourself, 
lest the cure may cost you more than the risk. 
Nothing, however, will help you so much as keeping 
still — talking very little with others, and as much 
as may be with yourself. For there is a sort of 
charm about conversation, something very subtle 
and coaxing, which, like intoxication or love, draws 
secrets from us. No man will keep to himself what 
he hears. No one will tell another only as much as 
he has heard. And he who tells tales will tell names, 
too. Everyone has someone to whom he entrusts 
exactly what has been entrusted to him. Though 
he checks his own garrulity, and is content with one 
hearer, he will bring about him a nation, if that which 
was a secret shortly before becomes common talk. 

The most important contribution to peace of mind 
is never to do wrong. Those who lack self-control 
lead disturbed and tumultuous lives ; their crimes 



tantum metuunt, quantum nocent, nee ullo tempore 
vacant. Trepidant enim, eum fecerunt, haerent ; 
conscientia aliud agere non patitur ac subinde respon- 
dere ad se cogit. Dat poenas quisquis expectat; 
quisquis autem meruit, expectat. Tutum aliqua res 
in mala conscientia praestat, nulla securum ; putat 
enim se, etiam si non deprenditur, posse deprendi. 
Et inter somnos movetur et, quotiens alicuius scelus 
loquitur, de suo cogitat ; non satis illi obliteratum 
videtur, non satis tectum. Nocens habuit aliquando 
latendi fortunam, numquam fiduciam. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Tardius rescribo ad epistulas tuas, non quia 
districtus occupationibus sum. Hanc excusationem 
cave audi as ; vaco et omnes vacant, qui volunt. 
Neminem res secuntur. Ipsi illas amplexantur et 
argumentum esse felicitatis occupationem putant. 
Quid ergo fuit, quare non protinus rescriberem ? 
Id,^ de quo quaerebas, veniebat in contextum operis 

2 mei. Scis enim me moralem philosophiam velle 
conplecti et omnes ad eam pertinentis quaestiones 
explicare. Itaque dubitavi utrum differrem te, donee 

1 id Madvig ; ei BA^ 

" Presumably (c/. Ep. eviii. § 1) into this collection of 



are balanced by their fears, and they are never at 
ease. For they tremble after the deed, and they 
are embarrassed ; their consciences do not allow 
them to busy themselves with other matters, and 
continually compel them to give an answer. Who- 
ever expects punishment, receives it, but whoever 
deserves it, expects it. Where there is an evil 
conscience something may bring safety, but nothing 
can bring ease ; for a man imagines that, even if he 
is not under arrest, he may soon be arrested. His 
sleep is troubled ; when he speaks of another man's 
crime, he reflects upon his own, which seems to him 
not sufficiently blotted out, not sufficiently hidden 
from view. A wrongdoer sometimes has the luck 
to escape notice but never the assurance thereof. 


My tardiness in answering your letter was not due 
to press of business. Do not listen to that sort of 
excuse ; I am at liberty, and so is anyone else who 
wishes to be at liberty. No man is at the mercy of 
affairs. He gets entangled in them of his own 
accord, and then flatters himself that being busy is 
a proof of happiness. Very well ; you no doubt 
want to know why I did not answer the letter sooner ? 
The matter about which you consulted me was being 
gathered into the fabric of my volume." For you 
know that I am planning to cover the whole of 
moral philosophy and to settle all the problems 
which concern it. Therefore I hesitated whether 
to make you wait until the proper time came for 



suus isti rei veniret locus, an^ ius tibi extra ordinem 
dicerem ; humanius visum est tarn longe venientem 

3 non detinere. Itaque et hoc ex ilia serie rerum 
cohaerentium excerpam et, si qua erunt eiusmodi, 
non quaerenti tibi ultro mittam. 

Quae smt haec interrogas ? Quae scire magis 
iuvat quam prodest, sicut hoc, de quo quaeris : 

4 bonum an corpus sit ? Bonum facit : prodest enim.^ 
Quod facit, corpus est. Bonum agitat animum et 
quodammodo format et continet, quae propria ^ sunt 
corporis. Quae corporis bona sunt, corpora sunt ; 

5 ergo et quae animi sunt. Nam et hoc corpus est. 
Bonum hominis necesse est corpus sit, cum ipse sit 
corporalis. Mentior, nisi et quae alunt ilium et 
quae valitudinem eius vel custodiunt vel restituunt, 
corpora sunt ; ergo et bonum eius corpus est. Non 
puto te dubitaturum, an adfectus corpora sint— ut 
aliud quoque, de quo non quaeris, infulciam — tam- 
quam ira,amor, tristitia,nisi* dubitas, an vultum nobis 
mutent, an frontem adstringant, an faciem difFundant, 
an ruborem evocent, an fugent sanguinem. Quid 
ergo ? Tam manifestas notas corporis credis inprimi ^ 

6 nisi a corpore ? Si adfectus corpora sunt, et morbi 
animorum, ut ^ avaritia, crudelitas, indurata vitia 
et in statum inemendabilem adducta ; ergo et malitia 

^ an after differrem te BA ; after locus Eisele. 

* facit : pfodest enim Schweighaeuser ; prodest. facile 
enim BA. 

' ergo propria MSS. ; propria Schweighaeuser. 

* nisi Gertz ; si BA. 

' inprimi later MSS. ; incrimine BA. 

* ut Windhaus and Gertz, with cod. Velz. ; et BA. 

" As Lucilius, in his letter, has come from far away. 
* This subject is discussed more fully in Ep. cxiii. For 


this subject, or to pronounce judgment out of the 
logical order ; but it seeihed more kindly not to keep 
waiting one who comes from such a distance." So I 
propose both to pick this out of the proper sequence 
of correlated matter, and also to send you, without 
waiting to be asked, whatever has to do with ques- 
tions of the same sort. 

Do you ask what these are ? Questions regarding 
which knowledge pleases rather than profits ; for 
instance, your question whether the good is cor- 
poreal.'' Now the good is active : for it is beneficial ; 
and what is active is corporeal. The good stimulates 
the mind and, in a way, moulds and embraces that 
which is essential to the body. The goods of the 
body are bodily ; so therefore must be the goods of 
the soul. For the soul, too, is corporeal. Ergo, 
man's good must be corporeal, since man himself is 
corporeal. I am sadly astray if the elements which 
support man and preserve or restore his health, are 
not bodily ; therefore, his good is a body. You will 
have no doubt, I am sure, that emotions are bodily 
things (if I may be allowed to wedge in another 
subject not under immediate discussion), like wrath, 
*love, sternness ; unless you doubt whether they 
change our features, knot our foreheads, relax the 
countenance, spread blushes, or drive away the 
blood ? What, then ? Do you think that such 
evident marks of the body are stamped upon us by 
anything else than body ? And if emotions are 
corporeal, so are the diseases of the spirit — such as 
greed, cruelty, and all the faults which harden in 
our souls, to such an extent that they get into 
an incurable state. Therefore evil is also, and all 

a clear account of the whole question of " body " see Arnold, 
Roman Stoicism, pp. 157 ff. 



et species eius omnes, malignitas, invidia, superbia ; 

7 ergo et bona, primum quia contraria istis sunt, deinde 
quia eadem tibi indicia praestabunt. An non vides, 
quantum oculis det vigorem fortitudo ? Quantam 
intentionem prudentia ? Quantam modestiam et 
quietem reverentia ? Quantam serenitatem laetitia ? 
Quantum rigorem severitas ? Quantam remissionem 
lenitas ? Corpora ergo sunt, quae colorem habitum- 
que corporum mutant, quae in illis regnum suum 

Omnes autem, quas rettuli, virtutes bona ^ sunt, et 
quicquid ex illis est. Numquid est dubium, an id, 

8 quo quid tangi potest, corpus sit ? 

Tangere enim et tangi nisi corpus nulla potest res, 

ut ait Lucretius. Omnia autem ista, quae dixi, non 
mutarent corpus, nisi tangerent ; ergo corpora sunt. 

9 Etiam nunc cui tanta vis est, ut inpellat et cogat et 
retineat et inhibeat,^ corpus est. Quid ergo ? Non 
timor retinet ? Non audacia inpellit ? Non forti- 
tudo inmittit et impetum dat ? Non moderatio 
refrenat ac revocat ? Non gaudium extollit ? Non 

10 tristitia adducit ? Denique quidquid facimus, aut 
malitiae aut virtutis gerimus imperio. Quod imperat 
corpori, corpus est,^ quod vim corpori adfert, corpus. 
Bonum corporis corporalest,* bonum hominis et cor- 
poris bonum est ; itaque corporale ^ est. 

11 Quoniam, ut voluisti, morem gessi tibi, nunc ipse 
dicam mihi, quod dicturum esse te video : latruncuUs 

^ bona later MSS. ; bonae BA. 

^ inhibeat Gertz ; iubeat BA. 

3 est later MSS. ; sit BA. 

* corporalest Windhaus ; corporalis BA ; corporalis res 
est later MSS. 

' corporale later MSS. ; corporalis BA. 


its branches — spite, hatred, pride ; and so also 
are goods, first because they are opposite poles of 
the bad, and second because they will manifest to 
you the same symptoms. Do you not see how a 
spirit of bravery makes the eye flash ? How pru- 
dence tends towards concentration ? How reverence 
produces moderation and tranquillity ? How joy 
produces calm ? How sternness begets stiffness ? 
How gentleness produces relaxation ? These qualities 
are therefore bodily ; for they change the tones and 
the shapes of substances, exercising their own power 
in their own kingdoms. 

Now all the virtues which I have mentioned are 
goods, and so are their results. Have you any doubt 
that whatever can be touched is corporeal ? 

Nothing but body can touch or be touched, 

as Lucretius" says. Moreover, such changes as I 
have mentioned could not affect the body without 
touching it. Therefore, they are bodily. Further- 
more, any object that has power to move, force, 
restrain, or control, is corporeal. Come now ! Does 
not fear hold us back ? Does not boldness drive us 
ahead ? Bravery spur us on, and give us momentum ? 
Restraint rein us in and call us back ? Joy raise 
our spirits ? Sadness cast us down ? In short, any 
act on our part is performed at the bidding of wicked- 
ness or virtue. Only a body can control or force- 
fully affect another body. The good of the body is 
corporeal ; a man's good is related to his bodily 
good ; therefore, it is bodily. 

Now that I have humoured your wishes, I shall 
•anticipate your remark, when you say : " What a 

» De Berum Nat. i. 304. 



ludimus. In supervacuis subtilitas teritur ; non 
faciunt bonos ista, sed doctos. Apertior res est 
12 sapere, immo simpliciter satius ^ est ad mentem 
bonam uti litteris, sed nos ut cetera in super- 
vacuum diffundimus, ita philosophiam ipsam. Quem- 
admodum omnium rerum, sic litterarum quoque 
intemperantia laboramus ; non vitae sed scholae 
discimus. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Ubi ilia prudentia tua ? Ubi in dispiciendis rebus 
subtilitas ? Ubi magnitude ? lam pusilla te res 
angit 2 ? Servi occupationes tuas occasionem fugae 
putaverunt. Si amici deciperent — habeant enim sane 
nomen, quod illis noster error ^ inposuit, et vocentur, 
quo turpius non sint — omnibus rebus tuis desset 
aliquid ; nunc ^ desunt illi, qui et operam tuam 
conterebant et te aliis molestum esse credebant. 

2 Nihil horum insolitum, nihil inexpectatum est. 
Offendi rebus istis tam ridiculum est quam queri, 
quod spargaris in publico aut inquineris in luto. 
Eadem vitae condicio est, quae balnei, turbae, 
itineris : quaedam in te mittentur,^ quaedam incident. 

^ satius Buecheler ; faucis BA. 

* te res angit later MSS. ; tangit BA ; pusilla tangunt 

^ error Madvig ; e priori or epicurus BA. 

* desset aliquid ; nunc inserted by Hense. 

* in te mittentur Lipsius ; intermittentur BA. 

" The Romans had a ludus latrunculorurn, with features 
resembling both draughts and chess. The pieces {calculi) 
were perhaps of different values : the latrunculus may have 
been a sort of " rover," cf. Martial, Epig. vii. 72. 


game of pawns ! " ** We dull our fine edge by such 
superfluous pursuits ; these things make men clever, 
but not good. Wisdom is a plainer thing than that ; 
nay, it is clearly better to use literature for the 
improvement of the mind, instead of wasting philo- 
sophy itself as we waste other efforts on superfluous 
things. Just as we suffer from excess in all things, so 
we suffer from excess in literature ; thus we learn 
our lessons, not for life, but for the lecture-room. 


Where is that common-sense of yours ? Where 
that deftness in examining things ? That greatness 
of soul ? Have you come to be tormented by a trifle ? 
Your slaves regarded your absorption in business 
as an opportunity for them to run away. Well, if 
your friends deceived you (for by all means let them 
have the name which we mistakenly bestowed upon 
them, and entitle them as such merely in order to 
give them no baser name) — if your friends, I repeat, 
deceived you, all your affairs would lack something ; 
as it is, you merely lack men who damaged your 
own endeavours and considered you burdensome 
to your neighbours. None of these things is unusual 
or unexpected. It is as nonsensical to be put out 
by such events as to complain of being spattered in 
the street or at getting befouled in the mud. The 
programme of life is the same as that of a bathing 
establishment, a crowd, or a journey : sometimes 
things will be thrown at you, and sometimes they 



Non est delicata res vivere. Longam viam ingressus 
es ; et labaris oportet et arietes et cadas et lasseris 
et exclames : " O mors ! " id est mentiaris. Alio 
loco comitem relinques, alio efFeres, alio timebis ; per 
eiusmodi ofFensas emetiendum est confragosum hoc 

3 Mori vult ? Praeparetur animus contra omnia ; 

sciat se venisse, ubi tonat fulmen. Sciat se venisse, 


Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae 
Pallentesque habitant morbi tristisque senectiis. 

In hoc contubernio vita degenda est. EfFugere ista 

non potes, contemnere potes. Contemnes autem, si 

4 saepe cogitaveris et futura praesumpseris. Nemo 
non fortius ad id, cui se diu conposuerat, accessit 
et duris quoque, si praemeditata erant, obstitit. At 
contra inparatus etiam levissima expavit. Id agen- 
dum est, ne quid nobis inopinatum sit. Et quia 
omnia novitate graviora sunt, hoc cogitatio adsidua 
praestabit, ut nulli sis malo tiro. 

5 " Servi me reliquerunt." Alium compilaverunt, 
alium accusaverunt, alium occiderunt, alium pro- 
diderunt, ahum calcaverunt, ahum veneno, alium 
criminatione petierunt ; quicquid dixeris, multis 
accidit. Deinceps quae multa et varia sunt, in nos 

" Vergil, Aen. vi. 274 f. 


will strike you by accident. • Life is not a dainty 
business. You have started on a long journey ; 
you are bound to slip, collide, fall, become weary, 
and cry out : " O for Death ! " — or in other words, 
tell lies. At one stage you will leave a comrade 
behind you, at another you will bury someone, at 
another you will be apprehensive. It is amid 
stumblings of this sort that you must travel out this 
rugged journey. 

Does one wish to die ? Let the mind be prepared 
to meet everything ; let it know that it has reached 
the heights round which the thunder plays. Let it 
know that it has arrived where — 

Grief and avenging Care have set their couch, 
And pallid sickness dwells, and drear Old Age." 

With such messmates must you spend your days. 
Avoid them you cannot, but despise them you can. 
And you will despise them, if you often take thought 
and anticipate the future. Everyone approaches 
courageously a danger which he has prepared himself 
to meet long before, and withstands even hardships 
if he has previously practised how to meet them. 
But, contrariwise, the unprepared are panic-stricken 
even at the most trifling things. We must see to it 
that nothing shall come upon us unforeseen. And 
since things are all the more serious when they are 
unfamiliar, continual reflection will give you the 
power, no matter what the evil may be, not to 
play the unschooled boy. 

" My slaves have run away from me ! " Yes, 
other men have been robbed, blackmailed, slain, be- 
trayed, stamped under foot, attacked by poison or 
by slander ; no matter what trouble you mention, it 
has happened to many. Again, there are manifold 

VOL. Ill Q 225 


tela deriguntur.^ Quaedam in nos fixa sunt, quae- 
dam vibrant et cum maxime veniunt, quaedam 

6 in alios perventura nos stringunt. Nihil miremur 
eorum, ad quae nati sumus, quae ideo nulli querenda, 
quia paria sunt omnibus. Ita dico, paria sunt ; nam 
etiam quod effugit aliquis, pati potuit. Aequum 
autem ius est non quo omnes usi sunt, sed quod 
omnibus latum est. Imperetur aequitas animo et sine 
querella mortalitatis tributa pendamus. 

7 Hiems frigora adducit : algendum est. Aestas 
calores refert : aestuandum est. Intemperies caeli 
valitudinem temptat : aegrotandum est. Et fera 
nobis aliquo loco occurret et homo perniciosior feris 
omnibus. Aliud aqua, aliud ignis eripiet. Hanc 
rerum condicionem mutare non possumus ; illud 
possumus, magnum sumere animum et viro bono 
dignum, quo fortiter fortuita patiamur et naturae 

8 consentiamus. Natura autem hoc, quod vides, reg- 
num mutationibus temperat ; nubilo serena suc- 
cedunt ; turbantur maria, cum quieverunt ; flant in 
vicem vejiti ; noctem dies sequitur ; pars caeli con- 
surgit, pars mergitur. Contrariis rerum aeternitas 

9 Ad hanc legem animus noster aptandus est ; hanc 
sequatur, huic pareat. Et quaecumque fiunt, de- 
buisse fieri putet nee velit obiurgare naturam. 
Optimum est pati, quod emendare non possis, et 

^ varia sunt, in nos tela deriguntur Hense ; B and A 
omit tela and read diriguntur. 



kinds of missiles which are hurled at us. Some are 
planted in us, some are being brandished and at this 
very moment are on the way, some which were 
destined for other men graze us instead. We should 
not manifest surprise at any sort of condition into 
which we are born, and which should be lamented 
by no one, simply because it is equally ordained for 
all. Yes, I say, equally ordained ; for a man might 
have experienced even that which he has escaped. 
And an equal law consists, not of that which all have 
experienced, but of that which is laid down for all. 
Be sure to prescribe for your mind this sense of 
equity ; we should pay without complaint the tax of 
our mortality. 

Winter brings on cold weather ; and we must 
shiver. Summer returns, with its heat ; and we 
must sweat. Unseasonable weather upsets the 
health ; and we must fall ill. In certain places we 
may meet with wild beasts, or with men who are more 
destructive than any beasts. Floods, or fires, will 
cause us loss. And we cannot change this order of 
things ; but what we can do is to acquire stout 
hearts, worthy of good men, thereby courageously 
enduring chance and placing ourselves in harmony 
with Nature. And Nature moderates this world- 
kingdom which you see, by her changing seasons : 
clear weather follows cloudy ; after a calm, comes 
the storm ; the winds blow by turns ; day succeeds 
night ; some of the heavenly bodies rise, and some 
set. Eternity consists of opposites. 

It is to this law that our souls must adjust them- 
selves, this they should follow, this they should 
obey. Whatever happens, assume that it was bound 
to happen, and do not be willing to rail at Nature. 
That which you cannot reform, it is best to endure, 



deum, quo auctore cuncta proveniunt, sine murmura- 
tione comitari ; malus miles est qui imperatorem 

10 gemens sequitur. Quare inpigri atque alacres ex- 
cipiamus imperia nee deseramus ^ hunc operis pul- 
cherrimi cursum, cui quidquid patiemur, intextum 

Et sic adloquamur lovem, cuius gubernaculo ^ 
moles ista derigitur, quemadmodum Cleanthes noster 
versibus disertissimis adloquitur, quos mihi in nostrum 
sermonem mutare permittitur Ciceronis, disertissimi 
viri, exemplo. Si placuerint, boni consules ; si 
displicuerint, scies me in hoc secutum Ciceronis 
exemplum : 

11 Due, o parens celsique dominator poli, 
Quocumque placuit ; nulla parendi mora est. 
Adsum inpiger. Fac nolle, comitabor gemens 
Malusque patiar, facere quod licuit bono. 
Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt. 

12 Sic vivamus, sic loquamur ; paratos nos inveniat 
atque inpigros fatum. Hie est magnus animus, qui 
se ei tradidit ; at contra ille pusillus et degener, qui 
obluctatur et de ordine mundi male existimat et 
emendare mavult deos quam se. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Id, de quo quaeris, ex his est, quae scire tantum 

^ deseramus later MSS. ; desimus BA. 
* gubernaculo later MSS. ; tahernaculo BA. 

<• Cleanthes, Frag. 527 von Arnim. In Epictetus {Ench. 
53) these verses are assigned to Cleanthes (omitting the last 
line) ; while St. Augustine {Civ. Dei, v. 8) quotes them as 
Seneca's : Annaei Senecae sunt, nisi fallor, hi versus. 
Wilamowitz and others follow the latter view. 



and to attend uncomplainingly upon the God under 
whose guidance everything progresses ; for it is a 
bad soldier who grumbles when following his com- 
mander. For this reason we should welcome our 
orders with energy and vigour, nor should we cease 
to follow the natural course of this most beautiful 
universe, into which all our future sufferings are 
woven. ^ 

Let us address Jupiter, the pilot of this world- 
mass, as did our great Cleanthes in those most 
eloquent lines — lines which I shall allow myself to 
render in Latin, after the example of the eloquent 
Cicero. If you like them, make the most of them ; 
if they displease you, you will understand that I 
have simply been following the practice of Cicero : 

Lead me, O Master of the lofty heavens. 

My Father, whithersoever thou shalt wish. 

I shall not falter, but obey with speed. 

And though I would not, I shall go, and suffer, 

In sin and sorrow what I might have done 

In noble virtue. Aye, the willing soul 

Fate leads, but the unwilling drags along." 

Let us live thus, and speak thus ; let Fate find us 
ready and alert. Here is your great soul — the man 
who has given himself over to Fate ; on the other 
hand, that man is a weakling and a degenerate who 
struggles and mahgns the order of the universe 
and would rather reform the gods than reform him- 
self. Farewell. 


The topic about which you ask me is one of those 
where our only concern with knowledge is to have the 



eo, ut scias, pertinet, Sed nihilominus, quia pertinet, 
properas nee vis exspeetare libros, quos eum maxima 
ordino continentes totam moralem philosophiae par- 
tem. Statim expediam, illud tamen prius scribam, 
quemadmodum tibi ista cupiditas discendi, qua fla- 

2 grare te video, digerenda sit, ne ipsa se inpediat. Nee 
passim carpenda sunt nee avide invadenda universa ; 
per partes pervenietur ad totum. Aptari onus viribus 
debet nee plus occupari quam cui sufficere possimus. 
Non quantum vis, sed quantum capis, hauriendum 
est. Bonum tantum habe animum ; capies quantum 
voles. Quo plus recipit animus, hoc se magis laxat. 

3 Haec nobis praecipere Attalum memini, cum 
scholam eius opsideremus et primi veniremus et 
novissimi exiremus, ambulantem quoque ilium ad 
aliquas disputationes evocaremus, non tantum para- 
tum discentibus, sed obvium. " Idem," inquit, " et 
docenti et discenti debet esse propositum : ut ille 

4 prodesse velit, hie proficere." Qui ad philosophum 
venit, cotidie aliquid secum boni ferat : aut sanior 
domum redeat aut sanabilior. Redibit autem ; ea 
philosophiae vis est, ut non studentes, sed etiam 
conversantes iuvet. Qui in solem venit, licet non in 

" Cf. Ep. cvi. 2 8cis enim me moralem philosophiam 
velle conplecti, etc. 

* Seneca's first and most convincing teacher of Stoicism, 
to whom this letter is a tribute. The ablest of contemporary 
philosophers, he was banished during the reign of Tiberius. 
See Indexes to Vols. I. and II. 


knowledge. Nevertheless, because it does so far 
concern us, you are in a hurry ; you are not willing 
to wait for the books which I am at this moment 
arranging for you, and which embrace the whole 
department of moral philosophy." I shall send 
you the books at once ; but I shall, before doing 
that, write and tell you how this eagerness to learn, 
with which I see you are aflame, should be regulated, 
so that it may not get in its own way. Things are 
not to be gathered at random ; nor should they 
be greedily attacked in the mass ; one will arrive 
at a knowledge of the whole by studying the parts. 
The burden should be suited to your strength, nor 
should you tackle more than you can adequately 
handle. Absorb not all that you wish, but all that 
you can hold. Only be of a sound mind, and then 
you will be able to hold all that you wish. For the 
more the mind receives, the more does it expand. 

This was the advice, I remember, which Attalus ^ 
gave me in the days when I practically laid siege to 
his class-room, the first to arrive and the last to 
leave. Even as he paced up and down, I would 
challenge him to various discussions ; for he not only 
kept himself accessible to his pupils, but met them 
half-way. His words were : " The same purpose 
should possess both master and scholar — an ambition 
in the one case to promote, and in the other to 
progress." He who studies with a philosopher should 
take away with him some one good thing every 
day : he should daily return home a sounder man, 
or in the way to become sounder And he will thus 
return ; for it is one of the functions of philosophy 
to help not only those who study her, but those also 
who associate with her. He that walks in the sun, 
though he walk not for that purpose, must needs 



hoc venerit, colorabitur ; qui in unguentaria taberna 
resederunt et paullo diutius commorati sunt, odorem 
secum loci ferunt. Et qui ad philosophum fuerunt, 
traxerint aliquid necesse est, quod prodesset etiam 
neglegentibus. Attende, quid dicam : neglegenti- 
bus, non repugnantibus. 

5 " Quid ergo ? Non novimus quosdam, qui multis 
apud philosophum annis persederint et ne colorem 
quidem duxerint ? " Quidni noverim ? Pertinacis- 
simos quidem et adsiduos, quos ego non discipulos 

6 philosopher um, sed inquiUnos voco. Quidam veniunt 
ut audiant, non ut discant, sicut in theatrum volup- 
tatis causa ad delectandas aures oratione vel voce vel 
fabuhs ducimur. Magnam hanc auditorum partem 
videbis, cui philosophi schola deversorium otii sit. 
Non id agunt, ut ahqua illo vitia deponant, ut ahquam 
legem vitae accipiant, qua mores suos exigant, sed 
ut oblectamento aurium perfruantur. Aliqui tamen 
et cum pugillaribus veniunt, non ut res excipiant, sed 
ut verba, quae tarn sine profectu alieno dicant quam 
sine suo audiunt. Quidam ad magnificas voces ex- 
citantur et transeunt in adfectum dicentium alacres 

7 vultu et animo, nee aliter concitantur quam solent 
Phrygii tibicinis sono semiviri et ex imperiofurentes.^ 
Rapit illos instigatque rerum pulchritudo, non ver- 

^ furentes Erasmus ; fugientes BA^. 

" Literally " tenants," " lodgers," of a temporary sort. 

^ Cf. the dangers of such lusoria {Ep. xlviii. 8) and a 
rebus studium transferendum est ad verba {Ep. xl. 14). 

" i.e., mendicant Galli, worshippers of Cybele, the Magna 


become sunburned. He who frequents the per- 
fumer's shop and hngers even for a short time, will 
carry with him the scent of the place. And he who 
follows a philosopher is bound to derive some benefit 
therefrom, which will help him even though he be 
remiss. Mark what I say : " remiss," not " re- 

" What then ? " you say, " do we not know certain 
men who have sat for many years at the feet of a 
philosopher and yet have not acquired the slightest 
tinge of wisdom ? " Of course I know such men. 
There are indeed persevering gentlemen who stick 
at it ; I do not call them pupils of the wise, but 
merely " squatters." ** Certain of them come to hear 
and not to learn, just as we are attracted to the 
theatre to satisfy the pleasures of the ear, whether 
by a speech, or by a song, or by a play. This class, 
as you will see, constitutes a large part of the listeners, 
— who regard the philosopher's lecture-room merely 
as a sort of lounging-place for their leisure. They 
do not set about to lay aside any faults there, or to 
receive a rule of life, by which they may test their 
characters ; they merely wish to enjoy to the full 
the delights of the ear. And yet some arrive even 
with notebooks, not to take down the matter, but 
only the words,** that they may presently repeat 
them to others with as little profit to these as they 
themselves received when they heard them. A 
certain number are stirred by high-sounding phrases, 
and adapt themselves to the emotions of the 
speaker with lively change of face and mind — ^just 
like the emasculated Phrygian priests <* who are 
wont to be roused by the sound of the flute and go 
mad to order. But the true hearer is ravished and 
stirred by the beauty of the subject matter, not by 



borum inanium sonitus. Si quid acriter contra 
mortem dictum est, si quid contra fortunam con- 
tumaciter, iuvat protinus quae audias, facere. Ad- 
ficiuntur illis et sunt quales iubentur, si ilia animo 
forma permaneat, si non impetum insignem protinus 
populus, honesti dissuasor, excipiat ; pauci illam, 
quam conceperant mentem, domum perferre po- 

8 tuerunt. Facile est auditorem concitare ad cupidinem 
recti ; omnibus enim natura fundamenta dedit 
semenque virtutum. Omnes ad omnia ista nati 
sumus ; cum inritator accessit, tunc ilia anima bona 
veluti soluta excitatur. Non vides, quemadmodum 
theatra consonent, quotiens aliqua dicta sunt, quae 
publice adgnoscimus et consensu vera esse testamur ? 

9 Desunt inopiae multa, avaritiae omnia. 

In nullum avarus bonus est, in se pessimus. 

Ad hos versus ille sordidissimus plaudit et vitiis suis 
fieri convicium gaudet ; quanto magis hoc iudicas 
evenire, cum a philosopho ista dicuntur, cum salutari- 
bus praeceptis versus inseruntur, efficacius eadem ilia 
10 demissuri in animum imperitorum ? " Nam," ut 
dicebat Cleanthes, " quemadmodum spiritus noster 
clariorem sonum reddit, cum ilium tuba per longi 
canalis angustias tractum patentiore novissime exitu 
efFudit, sic sensus nostros clariores carminis arta 
necessitas efficit." Eadem neglegentius audiuntur 

» Syri Sententiae, Frag. 236 Ribbeck. 
* lb.. Frag. 234 R. « Frag. 487 von Arnim. 



the jingle of empty words. When a bold word 
has been uttered in defiance of death, or a saucy 
fling in defiance of Fortune, we take delight in 
acting straightway upon that which we have heard. 
Men are impressed by such words, and become 
what they are bidden to be, should but the impres- 
sion abide in the mind, and should the populace, 
who discourage honourable things, not immediately 
lie in wait to rob them of this noble impulse ; only 
a few can carry home the mental attitude with 
which they were inspired. It is easy to rouse a 
listener so that he will crave righteousness ; for 
Nature has laid the foundations and planted the 
seeds of virtue in us all. And we are all born to 
these general privileges ; hence, when the stimulus 
is added, the good spirit is stirred as if it were freed 
from bonds. Have you not noticed how the theatre re- 
echoes whenever any words are spoken whose truth 
we appreciate generally and confirm unanimously ? 
The poor lack much ; the greedy man lacks all." 
A greedy man does good to none ; he does 
Most evil to himself. ** 
At such verses as these, your meanest miser claps 
applause and rejoices to hear his own sins reviled. 
How much more do you think this holds true, when 
such things are uttered by a philosopher, when he 
introduces verses among his wholesome precepts, 
that he may thus make those verses sink more 
effectively into the mind of the neophyte ! Cleanthes 
used to say : " "As our breath produces a louder 
sound when it passes through the long and narrow 
opening of the trumpet and escapes by a hole which 
widens at the end, even so the fettering rules of 
poetry clarify our meaning." The very same words 
are more carelessly received and make less impression 



minusque percutiunt, quamdiu soluta oratione dicun- 
tur ; ubi accessere numeri et egregium sensum ad- 
strinxere certi pedes, eadem ilia sententia velut 

11 lacerto excussiore ^ torquetur. De contemptu pe- 
cuniae multa dicuntur et longissimis orationibus hoc 
praecipitur, ut homines in animo, non in patrimonio 
putent esse divitias, eum esse locupletem, qui 
paupertati suae aptatus est et parvo se divitem 
fecit ; piagis tamen feriuntur animi, cum carmina 
eiusmodi dicta sunt : 

Is minimo eget mortalis, qui minimum cupit. 
Quod vult habet, qui velle quod satis est potest. 

12 Cum haec atque eiusmodi audimus, ad confessionem 
veritatis adducimur. 

lUi enim, quibus nihil satis est, admirantur, ad- 
clamant, odium pecuniae indicunt. Hunc illorum 
adfectum cum ^ videris, urge, hoc preme, hoc onera ^ 
relictis ambiguitatibus et syllogismis et cavillationibus 
et ceteris acuminis inriti ludicris. Die in avaritiam, 
die in luxuriam ; cum profecisse te videris et animos 
audientium adfeceris, insta vehementius ; veri simile 
non est, quantum proficiat talis oratio remedio intenta 
et tota in bonum audientium versa. Facillime enim 
tenera conciliantur ingenia ad honesti rectique 

^ excussiore Gertz ; excussare BA. 

* cum later MSS. ; cm. BA. 
® onera later MSS. ; honora BA. 

<» Pall. Incert. Fab. 65 and 66 Ribbeck. 


upon us, when they are spoken in prose ; but when 
metre is added and when regular prosody has com- 
pressed a noble idea, then the selfsame thought comes, 
as it were, hurtling with a fuller fling. We talk much 
about despising money, and we give advice on this 
subject in the lengthiest of speeches, that mankind 
may believe true riches to exist in the mind and not 
in one's bank account, and that the man who adapts 
himself to his slender means and makes himself 
wealthy on a little sum, is the truly rich man ; but 
our minds are struck more effectively when a verse 
like this is repeated : 

He needs but little who desires but little. 


He hath his wish, whose wish includeth naught 
Save that which is enough." 

When we hear such words as these, we are led 
towards a confession of the truth. 

Even men in whose opinion nothing is enough, 
wonder and applaud when they hear such words, 
and swear eternal hatred against money. When 
you see them thus disposed, strike home, keep at 
them, and charge them with this duty, dropping all 
double meanings, syllogisms, hair-splitting, and the 
other side-shows of ineffective smartness. Preach 
against greed, preach against high living ; and when 
you notice that you have made progress and im- 
pressed the minds of your hearers, lay on still harder. 
You cannot imagine how much progress can be 
brought about by an address of that nature, when 
you are bent on curing your hearers and are abso- 
lutely devoted to their best interests. For when the 
mind is young, it may most easily be won over to 
desire what is honourable and upright ; truth, if she 



amorem et adhuc docibilibus leviterque corruptis 
inicit manum Veritas, si advocatum idoneum nancta 

13 Ego certe cum Attalum audirem in vitia, in errores, 
in mala vitae perorantem, saepe miseritus sum generis 
humani et ilium sublimem altioremque humano 
fastigio credidi. Ipse regem se esse dicebat, sed plus 
quam regnare mihi videbatur, cui liceret censuram 

14 agere regnantium. Cum vero commendare pauper- 
tatem coeperat et ostendere, quam quidquid usum 
excederet, pondus esset supervacuum et grave ferenti, 
saepe exire e schola pauperi libuit. Cum coeperat 
voluptates nostras traducere, laudare castum corpus, 
sobriam mensam, puram mentem non tantum ab 
inlicitis voluptatibus, sed etiam supervacuis, libebat 

15 circumscribere gulam ac ventrem. Inde mihi quae- 
dam permansere, Lucili. Magno enim in omnia 
inceptu veneram. Deinde ad civitatis vitam reductus 
ex bene coeptis pauca servavi. Inde ostreis boletis- 
que in omnem vitam renuntiatum est ; nee enim 
cibi, sed oblectamenta sunt ad edendum saturos 
cogentia, quod gratissimum est edacibus et se ultra 
quam capiunt farcientibus, facile descensura, facile 

16 reditura. Inde in omnem vitam unguentoabstinemus, 
quoniam optimus odor in corpore est nuUus. Inde 
vino carens stomachus. Inde in omnem vitam bal- 
neum fugimus, decoquere corpus atque exinanire 

" A characteristic Stoic paradox. 

^ An almost proverbial saying ; cf. the recte diet ubi nil 
olet of Plautus {Most. 2731, Cicero, and Martial. 


can obtain a suitable pleader, will lay strong hands 
upon those who can still be taught, those who have 
been but superficially spoiled. 

At any rate, when I used to hear Attalus denounc- 
ing sin, error, and the evils of life, I often felt sorry 
for mankind and regarded Attalus as a noble and 
majestic being, — above our mortal heights. He 
called himself a king," but I thought him more than 
a king, because he was entitled to pass judgment 
on kings. And in truth, when he began to uphold 
poverty, and to show what a useless and dangerous 
burden was everything that passed the measure of 
our need, I often desired to leave his lecture-room 
a poor man. Whenever he castigated our pleasure- 
seeking lives, and extolled personal purity, modera- 
tion in diet, and a mind free from unnecessary, not 
to speak of unlawful, pleasures, the desire came upon 
me to limit my food and drink. And that is why 
some of these habits have stayed with me, Lucilius. 
For I had planned my whole life with great resolves. 
And later, when I returned to the duties of a citizen, 
I did indeed keep a few of these good resolutions. 
That is why I have forsaken oysters and mushrooms 
for ever : since they are not really food, but are 
relishes to bully the sated stomach into further 
eating, as is the fancy of gourmands and those who 
stuff themselves beyond their powers of digestion : 
down with it quickly, and up with it quickly ! That 
is why I have also throughout my life avoided per- 
fumes ; because the best scent for the person is no 
scent ,at all.^ That is why my stomach is unac- 
quainted with wine. That is why throughout my 
life I have shunned the bath, and have believed that 
to emaciate the body and sweat it into thinness is 



sudoribus inutile simul delicatumque credidimus. 
Cetera proiecta redierunt, ita tamen, ut quorum 
abstinentiam interrupi, modum servem et quidem 
abstinentiae proximiorem, nescio an difficiliorem, 
quoniam quaedam absciduntur facilius animo quam 

17 Quoniam coepi tibi exponere, quanto maiore im- 
petu ad philosophiam iuvenis accesserim quam senex 
pergam, non pudebit fateri, quem mihi amorem 
Pythagoras iniecerit. Sotion dicebat, quare ille 
animalibus abstinuisset, quare postea Sextius. Dis- 
similis utrique causa erat, sed utrique magnifica. 

18 Hie homini satis alimentorum citra sanguinem esse 
credebat et crudelitatis consuetudinem fieri, ubi in 
voluptatem esset adducta laceratio. Adiciebat con- 
trahendam materiam esse luxuriae ; colligebat bonae 
valitudini contraria esse alimenta varia et nostris 

19 aliena corporibus. At Pythagoras omnium inter 
omnia cognationem esse dicebat et animorum com- 
mercium in alias atque alias formas transeuntium. 
Nulla, si illi credas, anima interit, ne cessat quidem 
nisi tempore exiguo, dum in aliud corpus trans- 
funditur. Videbimus, per quas temporum vices et 
quando pererratis pluribus domiciliis in hominem 
revertatur ; interim sceleris hominibus ac parricidii 
metum fecit, cum possent in parentis animam,inscii 
incurrere et ferro morsuve violare, si in quo cognatus 

" Pythagorean philosopher of the Augustine age, and one 
of Seneca's early teachers. 



at once unprofitable and effeminate. Other resolu- 
tions have been broken, but after all in such a way 
that, in cases where I ceased to practice abstinence, 
I have observed a limit which is indeed next door to 
abstinence ; perhaps it is even a little more difficult, 
because it is easier for the will to cut oif certain 
things utterly than to use them with restraint. 

Inasmuch as I have begun to explain to you how 
much greater was my impulse to approach philosophy 
in my youth than to continue it in my old age, I 
shall not be ashamed to tell you what ardent zeal 
Pythagoras inspired in me. Sotion ** used to tell me 
why Pythagoras abstained from animal food, and 
why, in later times, Sextius did also. In each case, 
the reason was different, but it was in each case a 
noble reason. Sextius believed that man had enough 
sustenance without resorting to blood, and that a 
habit of cruelty is formed whenever butchery is 
practised for pleasure. Moreover, he thought we 
should curtail the sources of our luxury ; he argued 
that a varied diet was contrary to the laws of health, 
and was unsuited to our constitutions. Pythagoras, 
on the other hand, held that all beings were inter- 
related, and that there was a system of exchange 
between souls which transmigrated from one bodily 
shape into another. If one may believe him, no soul 
perishes or ceases from its functions at all, except 
for a tiny interval — when it is being poured from one 
body into another. We may question at what time 
and after what seasons of change the soul returns to 
man, when it has wandered through many a dwelling- 
place ; but meantime, he made men fearful of guilt 
and parricide, since they might be, without knowing 
it, attacking the soul of a parent and injuring it with 
knife or with teeth — if, as is possible, the related 

VOL. Ill H 241 


20 aliqui spiritus hospitaretur. Haec cum exposuisset 
Sotion et inplesset argumentis suis, " Non credis," 
inquit, " animas in alia corpora atque alia discribi et 
migrationem esse quod dicimus mortem ? Non credis 
in his pecudibusferisve aut aquamersis ilium quondam 
hominis animum morari ? Non credis nihil perire in 
hoc mundo, sed mutare regionem ? Nee tantum 
caelestia per certos circuitus verti, sed animalia quo- 
que per vices ire et animos per orbem agi ? Magni 

21 ista crediderunt viri. Itaque indicium quidem tuum 
sustine, ceterum omnia tibi in integro serva. Si vera 
sunt ista, abstinuisse animalibus innocentia est ; si 
falsa, frugalitas est. Quod istic credulitatis ^ tuae 
damnum est ? Alimenta tibi leonum et vulturum 

22 His ego instinctus abstinere animalibus coepi, et 
anno peracto non tantum facilis erat mihi consuetude, 
sed dulcis, Agitatiorem mihi animum esse crede- 
bam, nee tibi hodie adfirmaverim, an fuerit. Quaeris, 
quomodo desierim ? In primum Tiberii Caesaris 
principatum iuventae tempus inciderat. Alienigena 
tum sacra movebantur, sed inter argumenta super- 
stitionis ponebatur quorundam animalium absti- 
nentia. Patre itaque meo rogante, qui non calum- 
niam timebat, sed philosophiam oderat, ad pristinam 

^ credulitatis cod. Rhedig. ; crudelitatis BA. 

<• A.D. 19. Cf. Tacitus, Ann. 11. 85 actum de sacris 
Aegyptiis ludaicisque pellendis. 



spirit be dwelling temporarily in this bit of flesh ! 
When Sotion had set forth this doctrine, supplement- 
ing it with his own proofs, he would say : " You do 
not believe that souls are assigned, first to one body 
and then to another, and that our so-called death is 
merely a change of abode ? You do not believe that 
in cattle, or in wild beasts, or in creatures of the 
deep, the soul of him who was once a man may 
linger ? You do not believe that nothing on this 
earth is annihilated, but only changes its haunts ? 
And that animals also have cycles of progress and, 
so to speak, an orbit for their souls, no less than the 
heavenly bodies, which revolve in fixed circuits ? 
Great men have put faith in this idea ; therefore, 
while holding to your own view, keep the whole 
question in abeyance in your mind. If the theory is 
true, it is a mark of purity to refrain from eating 
flesh ; if it be false, it is economy. And what harm 
does it do to you to give such credence ? I am 
merely depriving you of food which sustains lions 
and vultures." 

I was imbued with this teaching, and began to 
abstain from animal food ; at the end of a year 
the habit was as pleasant as it was easy, I was 
beginning to feel that my mind was more active ; 
though I would not to-day positively state whether it 
really was or not. Do you ask how I came to abandon 
the practice ? It was this way : The days of my 
youth coincided with the early part of the reign of 
Tiberius Caesar. Some foreign rites were at that 
time " being inaugurated, and abstinence from cer- 
tain kinds of animal food was set down as a proof 
of interest in the strange cult. So at the request of 
my father, who did not fear gossip, but who detested 
philosophy, I returned to my previous habits ; and 



consuetudinem redii. Nee difficulter mihi, ut in- 
ciperem melius cenare, persuasit. 

23 Laudare solebat Attalus culcitam, quae resisteret 
corpori ; tali utor etiam senex, in qua vestigium 
apparere non possit. Haec rettuli ut probarem tibi, 
quam vehementes haberent tirunculi impetus primes 
ad optima quaeque, si quis ^ exhortaretur illos, si 
quis incenderet.2 Sed aliquid praecipientium vitio 
peccatur, qui nos decent disputare, non vivere, aliquid 
discentium, qui propositum adferunt ad praeceptores 
suos non animum excolendi, sed ingenium. Itaque 
quae philosophia fuit, facta philologia est. 

24 Multum autem ad rem pertinet, quo proposito ad 
quamquam rem accedas. Qui grammaticus futurus 
Vergilium scrutatur, non hoc animo legit illud 
egregium : 

fugit inreparabile tempus : 

^ vigilandum est ; nisi properamus, relinquemur ; agit 

^ ^ nos agiturque velox dies ; inscii rapimur ; omnia in 

^ futurtrtn-^sponimus et inter praecipitia lenti sumus ; 

sed ut observet, quotiens Vergilius de celeritate ^ 

temporum dicit, hoc uti verbo ilium " fugit." 

Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi 
Prima fugit ; subeunt morbi tristisque senectus 
Et labor, et durae rapit inclementia mortis. 

25 Ille, qui ad philosophiam spectat, haec eadem quo 
debet, adducit : numquam Vergilius, inquit, dies dicit 

^ quis later MSS. ; quisque BA. 
2 incenderet Hense ; inpenderet BA^. 
^ celeritate later MSS. ; claritate BA. 

" In this passage Seneca differs (as also in Ep. Ixxxviii. § 3) 
from the earlier Roman idea of grammaticus as poetarum 
interpres : he is thinking of one who deals with verbal 
expressions and the meaning of words. Cf. Sandys, Hist. 
Class. Schol. i. 8 ff. 

" Oeorg. iii. 284. « Oeorg. iii. Q6 ff. 



it was no very hard matter to induce me to dine 
more comfortably. 

Attalus used to recommend a pillow which did not 
give in to the body ; and now, old as I am, I use 
one so hard that it leaves no trace after pressure. 
I have mentioned all this in order to show you how 
zealous neophytes are with regard to their first im- 
pulses towards the highest ideals, provided that some 
one does his part in exhorting them and in kindhng 
their ardour. There are indeed mistakes made, 
through the fault of our advisers, who teach us how 
to debate and not how to live ; there are also mis- 
takes made by the pupils, who come to their teachers 
to develop, not their souls, but their wits. Thus the 
study of wisdom has become the study of words. 

Now it makes a great deal of difference what you 
have in mind when you approach a given subject. 
If a man is to be a scholar,'^ and is examining the works 
of Vergil, he does not interpret the noble passage : 

Time flies away, and cannot be restored * 

in the following sense : " We must wake up ; unless 
we hasten, we shall be left behind. Time rolls 
swiftly ahead, and rolls us with it. We are hurried 
along ignorant of our destiny ; we arrange all our 
plans for the future, and on the edge of a precipice 
are at our ease." Instead of this, he brings to our 
attention how often Vergil, in speaking of the rapidity 
of time, uses the word " flies " (fugit). 

The choicest days of hapless human life 
Fly first ; disease and bitter eld succeed, 
And toil, till harsh death rudely snatches all." 

He who considers these lines in the spirit of a 
philosopher comments on the words in their proper 
sense : " Vergil never says, ' Time goes,' but ' Time 



ire, sed fugere, quod currendi genus concitatissimum 
est, et optimos quosque primes rapi ^ ; quid ergo 
cessamus nos ipsi concitare, ut velocitatem rapidissi- 
mae rei possimus aequare ? Meliora praetervolant, 

26 deteriora succedunt. Quemadmodum ex amphora 
primum, quod est sincerissimum, effluit, gravissimum 
quodque turbidumque subsidit, sic in aetate nostra 
quod est optimum, in primo est. Id exhauriri aliis ^ 
potius patimur, ut nobis faecem reservemus ? In- 
haereat istud animo et tamquam missum oraculo 
placeat : 

Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi 
Prima fugit. 

27 Quare optima ? Quia quod restat, incertum est. 
Quare optima ? Quia iuvenes possumus discere, 
possumus facilem animum et adhuc tractabilem ad 
meliora convertere ; quia hoc tempus idoneum est 
laboribus, idoneum agitandis per studia ingeniis et ' 
exercendis per opera corporibus ; quod superest, 
segnius et languidius est et propius a fine. 

Itaque toto hoc agamus animo et omissis, ad quae 
devertimur, in rem unam labor emus, ne hanc tem- 
poris pernicissimi celeritatem, quam retinere non 
possumus, relicti demum intellegamus. Primus quis- 
que tamquam optimus dies placeat et redigatur in 

28 nostrum. Quod fugit, occupandum est. Haec non 
cogitat ille, qui grammatici^ oculis carmen istud 

' rapi later MSS. ; rapit BA. 

* aliis Haase ; in aliis BA. 

8 et later MSS. ; est et BA. 

* grammatici edd. ; grammati BA. 



flies,' because the latter is the quickest kind of 
movement, and in every case our best days are the 
first to be snatched away ; why, then, do we hesitate 
to bestir ourselves so that we may be able to keep 
pace with this swiftest of all swift things ? " The 
good flies past and the bad takes its place. Just as 
the purest wine flows from the top of the jar and 
the thickest dregs settle at the bottom ; so in our 
human life, that which is best comes first. Shall we 
allow other men to quaff the best, and keep the 
dregs for ourselves ? Let this phrase cleave to your 
soul ; you should be satisfied thereby as if it were 
uttered by an oracle : 

Each choicest day of hapless human life 
Flies first. 

Why " choicest day " ? Because what's to come is 
unsure. Why " choicest day " ? Because in our 
youth we are able to learn ; we can bend to nobler 
purposes minds that are ready and still pliable ; 
because this is the time for work, the time for 
keeping our minds busied in study and in exercising 
our bodies with useful effort ; for that which remains 
is more sluggish and lacking in spirit — nearer the 

Let us therefore strive with all courage, omitting 
attractions by the way ; let us struggle with a single 
purpose, lest, when we are left behind, we compre- 
hend too late the speed of quick-flying time, whose 
course we cannot stay. Let every day, as soon as 
it comes, be welcome as being the choicest, and let 
it be made our own possession. We must catch that 
which flees. Now he who scans with a scholar's eye 



legit, ideo optimum quemque primum esse diem, 
quia subeunt morbi, quia senectus premit et adhuc 
adulescentiam cogitantibus supra caput est ; sed ait 
Vergilium semper una ponere morbos et senectutem, 
non mehercules immerito. Senectus enim insanabilis 

29 morbus est. Praeterea, inquit, hoc senectuti co- 
gnomen inposuit, tristem illam vocat : 

subeunt morbi tristisque senectus. 

Alio loco dicit : 

Pallentesque habitant morbi tristisque senectus. 

Non est quod mireris ex eadem materia suis 
quemque studiis apta colligere ; in eodem prato bos 

30 herbam quaerit, cards leporem, ciconia lacertam. 
Cum Ciceronis librum de Re Publica prendit^ hinc 
philologus aliquisjhinc grammaticus,hinc philosophiae 
deditus, alius alio curam suam mittit. Philosoplius 
admiratur contra iustitiam dici tam multa potuisse. 
Cum ad banc eandem lectionem philologus accessit, 
hoc subnotat : Duos Romanos reges esse, quorum 
alter patrem non habet, alter matrem. Nam de 
Servi matre dubitatur ; Anci pater nullus, Numae 

31 nepotis,^ dicitur. Praeterea notat eum, quem nos 
dictatorem dicimus et in historiis ita nominari 
legimus, aput antiquos magistrum populi vocatum. 
Hodieque id extat in auguralibus hbris, et testi- 
monium est, quod qui ab illo nominatur, magister 
equitum est. Aeque notat Romulum perisse solis de- 

^ de re p. prendit Erasmus ; deprendit BA. 
* Numae nepotia Buecheler ; Numae (nume) nepotes BA. 

<» Aen. vi. 275. 

'' Cicero, De re publica, ii. 18 Numae Pompili nepos ex 
filia rex a populo est Ancus Marcius constitutus . . . si- 
quidem istius regis matrem habemus, ignoramus patrem. 


the lines I have just quoted, does not reflect that 
our first days are the best because disease is 
approaching and old age weighs upon us and hangs 
over our heads while we are still thinking about our 
youth. He thinks rather of Vergil's usual colloca- 
tion of disease and eld ; and indeed rightly. For old 
age is a disease which we cannot cure. " Besides," 
he says to himself, " think of the epithet that 
accompanies eld ; Vergil calls it hitter," — 

Disease and bitter eld succeed. 

And elsewhere Vergil says : 

There dwelleth pale disease and bitter eld." 

There is no reason why you should marvel that each 
man can collect from the same source suitable matter 
for his own studies ; for in the same meadow the 
cow grazes, the dog hunts the hare, and the stork 
the lizard. When Cicero's book On the State is opened 
by a philologist, a scholar, or a follower of philosophy , 
each man pursues his investigation in his own way. 
The philosopher wonders that so much could have 
been said therein against justice. The philologist 
takes up the same book and comments on the text 
as follows : There were two Roman kings — one 
without a father and one without a mother. For we 
cannot settle who was Servius's mother, and Ancus, 
the grandson of Numa, has no father on record. ** 
The philologist also notes that the officer whom we 
call dictator, and about whom we read in our histories 
under that title, was named in old times the magister 
populi ; such is the name existing to-day in the 
augural records, proved by the fact that he whom 
the dictator chose as second in command was called 
magister equitum. He will remark, too, that Romulus 



fectione ; provocationem ad populum etiam a^ regibus 
fuisse ; id ita in pontificalibus libris esse et alii quiqui ^ 

32 putant et Fenestella. Eosdem libros cum gram- 
maticus explicuit, primum verba expressa,^ reapse* 
dici a Cicerone, id est re ipsa, in commentarium 
refert, nee minus sepse,^ id est se ipse. Deinde 
transit ad ea, quae consuetudo saeculi mutavit, 
tamquam ait Cicero : " quoniam sumus ab ipsa calce 
eius interpellatione revocati." Hanc quam nunc in 
circo cretam vocamus, calcem antiqui dicebant. 
Deinde Ennianos ^ colligit versus et in primis illos de 

33 Africano scriptos : 

cui nemo civis neque hostis 
Quibit ' pro factis reddere opis pretium. 

Ex eo se ait intellegere, opem^ aput antiques non 
tantum auxilium significasse, sed operam. Ait enim 
Ennius ^ neminem potuisse Scipioni ^" neque civem 
neque hostem reddere operae pretium. Felicem 

34 deinde se putat, quod invenerit, unde visum sit 
Vergilio dicere : 

quem super ingens 
porta tonat caeli. 

Ennium ^^ hoc ait Homero subripuisse,^^ Ennio Vergi- 

^ etiam a later MSS. ; etiam BA. 

^ id . . . quiqui Windhaus ; id ita inveniri in p. I. et 
aliqui B [aliqui A). 

' expressa later MSS. ; expresse BA. 

* reapse Schweighaeuser ; ab se BA. 

* sepse Muretus ; sese BA. 

* Ennianos Pincianus ; inanes BA. 
' quibit Pincianus ; quivult BA. 

* opem add. Korsch. 

* ait enim Ennius Vahlen and Haase ; ait operaenim 
ineius BA. 

^^ Scipioni Pincianus ; Scipionem BA. 

^^ Ennium Pincianus ; Ennius BA. 

^* subripuisse cod. Rom. ; se subripuisse BA. 



met his end during an eclipse ; that there was an 
appeal to the people even from the kings (this is 
so stated in the pontiffs' register and is the opinion 
of others, including Fenestella"). When the scholar 
unrolls this same volume, he puts down in his note- 
book the forms of words, noting that reapse, equiv- 
alent to re ipsa, is used by Cicero, and sepse ^ just as 
frequently, which means se ipse. Then he turns his 
attention to changes in current usage. Cicero, for 
example, says : " Inasmuch as we are summoned 
back from the very calx by his interruption." Now 
the line in the circus which we call the creta," was 
called the calx by men of old time. Again, he puts 
together some verses by Ennius, especially those 
which referred to Africanus : 

A man to whom nor friend nor foe could give 
13ue meed for all his efforts and his deeds.** 

From this passage the scholar declares that he infers 
the word apem to have meant formerly not merely 
assistance, but efforts. For Ennius must mean that 
neither friend nor foe could pay Scipio a reward 
worthy of his efforts. Next, he congratulates himself 
on finding the source of Vergil's words : 

Over whose head the mighty gate of Heaven 

remarking that Ennius stole the idea from Homer, 

" Fl. in the Augustan Age. Provocatio is defined by 
Greenidge {Rom. Pub. Life, p. 64) as " a challenge by an 
accused to a magistrate to appear before another tribunal." 

* A suffix, probably related to the intensive -pte. 

" Literally, the chalk-marked, or lime-marked, goal-line. 

^ Vahlen's Ennius, p. 215. 

« Qeorg. iii. 260 f. 



lium. Esse enim apud Ciceronem in his ipsis de Re 
Publica hoc eplgramma Enni : 

Si fas endo plagas caelestum ascendere cuiquam est. 
Mi soli caeli maxima porta patet. 

35 Sed ne et ipse, dum aliud ago, in philologum aut 
grammaticum delabar, illud admoneo, auditionem 
philosophorum lectionemque ad propositum beatae 
vitae trahendam, non ut verba prisca aut fieta 
captemus et translationes inprobas figurasque di- 
cendi, sed ut profutura praecepta et magnificas voces 
et animosas, quae mox in rem transferantur. Sic 
ista ediscamus, ut quae fuerint verba, sint opera. 

36 Nullos autem peius mereri de omnibus mortalibus 
iudico quam qui philosophiam velut aliquod artificium 
venale didicerunt, qui aliter vivunt quam vivendum 
esse praecipiunt. Exempla enim se ipsos inutilis 
disciplinae circumferunt nulTi^lion vitio, quod in- 

37 sequuntur, obnoxii. Non magis mihi potest quisquam 
talis prodesse praeceptor quam gubernator in tem- 
pestate nauseabundus. Tenendum rapiente fluctu 
gubernaculum, luctandum cum ipso marl, eripienda 
sunt vento vela ; quid me potest adiuvare rector 
navigii attonitus et vomitans ? Quanto maiore putas 
vitam tempestate iactari quam ullam ratem ? Non est 
loquendum, sed gubernandum. 

38 Omnia quae dicunt, quae turba audiente iactant, 
aliena sunt ; dixit ilia Platon, dixit Zenon, dixit 
Chrysippus et Posidonius et ingens agmen nostrorum^ 
tot ac talium. Quomodo probare possint sua esse, 

^ nostrorum Buecheler ; non BA. 
■» Vahlen's Ennius, p. 216. 


and Vergil from Ennius. For there is a couplet by 
Ennius, preserved in this same book of Cicero's, On 
the State : <* 

If it be right for a mortal to scale the regions of Heaven, 
Then the huge gate of the sky opens in glory to me. 

But that I, too, while engaged upon another task, 
may not slip into the department of the philologist 
or the scholar, my advice is this — that all study of 
philosophy and all reading should be applied to the 
idea of living the happy life, that we should not 
hunt out archaic or far-fetched words and eccentric 
metaphors and figures of speech, but that we should 
seek precepts which will help us, utterances of 
courage and spirit which may at once be turned 
into facts. We should so learn them that words 
may become deeds. And I hold that no man has 
treated mankind worse than he who has studied 
philosophy as if it were some marketable trade, who 
lives in a different manner from that which he advises. 
For those who are liable to every fault which they 
castigate advertise themselves as patterns of useless 
training. A teacher like that can help me no more 
than a sea-sick pilot can be efficient in a storm. He 
must hold the tiller when the waves are tossing him ; 
he must wrestle, as it were, with the sea ; he must 
let his sails be torn away by the gale ; what good is 
a frightened and vomiting steersman to me ? And 
how much greater, think you, is the storm of life 
than that which tosses any ship ! One must steer, 
not talk. 

All the words that these men utter and juggle 
before a listening crowd, belong to others. They 
have been spoken by Plato, spoken by Zeno, spoken 
by Chrysippus or by Posidonius, and by a whole host 
of Stoics as numerous as excellent. I shall show you 



39 monstrabo : faciant, quae dixerint. Quoniam quae 
volueram ad te perferre, iam dixi, nunc desiderio 
tuo satis faciam et in ^ alteram epistulam integrum, 
quod exegeras, transferam, ne ad rem spinosam et 
auribus erectis curiosisque audiendam lassus accedas. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 An sapiens sapienti prosit scire desideras. Di- 
cimus plenum omni bono esse sapientem et summa 
adeptum ; quomodo prodesse aliqui possit summum 
habenti bonum, quaeritur. 

Prosunt inter se boni ; exercent enim virtutes et 
sapientiam in suo statu continent. Desiderat uterque 

2 aliquem, cum quo conferat, cum quo quaerat. Peri- 
tos luctandi usus exercet ; musicum, qui paria 
didicit, movet. Opus est et sapienti agitatione ^ 
virtutum : ita quemadmodum ipse se movet, sic 

3 movetur ab alio sapiente. Quid sapiens sapienti 
proderit ? Impetum illi dabit, occasiones actionum 
honestarum commonstrabit. Praeter haec aliquas 
cogitationes suas exprimet : docebit, quae invenerit. 
Semper enim etiam a sapiente restabit, quod inveniat 
et quo animus eius excurrat. 

^ in later MSS. ; inter BA. 

^ sapienti agitatione later MSS. ; sapientia cogitatione 



how men can prove their words to be their own : it 
is by doing what they have been talking about. 
Since therefore I have given you the message I 
wished to pass on to you, I shall now satisfy your 
craving and shall reserve for a new letter a complete 
answer to your summons ; so that you may not 
approach in a condition of weariness a subject which 
is thorny and which should be followed with an 
attentive and painstaking ear. Farewell. 


You expressed a wish to know whether a wise man 
can help a wise man. For we say that the wise man 
is completely endowed with every good, and has 
attained perfection ; accordingly, the question arises 
how it is possible for anyone to help a person who 
possesses the Supreme Good. 

Good men are mutually helpful ; for each gives 
practice to the other's virtues and thus maintains 
wisdom at its proper level. Each needs someone with 
whom he may make comparisons and investigations. 
Skilled wrestlers are kept up to the mark by practice ; 
a musician is stirred to action by one of equal pro- 
ficiency. The wise man also needs to have his 
virtues kept in action ; and as he prompts himself to 
do things, so is he prompted by another wise man. 
How can a wise man help another wise man ? He 
can quicken his impulses, and point out to him 
opportunities for honourable action. Besides, he can 
develop some of his own ideas ; he can impart what 
he has discovered. For even in the case of the 
wise man something will always remain to discover, 
something towards which his mind may make new 



4 Malus malo nocet facitque peiorem, iram eius ^ 
incitando, tristitiae adsentiendo, voluptates laudando, 
et tunc maxime laborant mail, ubi plurimum vitia 
miscuere, et in unum conlata nequitia est. Ergo ex 
contrario bonus bono proderit. " Quomodo ? " in- 

5 quis. Gaudium illi adferet, fiduciam confirmabit, 
ex conspectu mutuae tranquillitatis crescet utriusque 
laetitia, Praeterea quarumdam illi rerum scientiam 
tradet ; non enim omnia sapiens scit. Etiam si 
sciret, breviores vias rerum aliqui excogitare posset 
et has indicare, per quas facilius totum opus circum- 

6 fertur. Proderit sapienti sapiens, non scilicet tantum 
suis viribus, sed ipsius, quem adiuvat. Potest quidem 
ille etiam relictus sibi explicare partes suas ; nihilo- 
minus adiuvat etiam currentem hortator. 

" Non prodest sapienti sapiens, sed sibi ipse. 
Hoc scias : detrahe illi vim propriam, et ille nihil 

7 aget." Illo 2 modo dicas licet non esse in melle 
dulcedinem : nam ipse ille, qui esse debeat, ita 
aptatus lingua palatoque est ad eiusmodi gustum, ut 
ilia talis sapor capiat, aut^ ofFendetur. Sunt enim 
quidam, quibus morbi vitio mel amarum videatur. 
Oportet utrumque valere,* ut et ille prodesse possit 

8 et hie profuturo idonea materia sit. " Si ^ in sum- 
mum," inquit, " perducto ^ calorem calefieri super- 

^ eius later MSS. ; metus BA. 

" illo Windhaus ; uno BA, 

' aut add. Klammer. 

* valere Ilaase ; colore or calere MSS. 

* si add. Gertz. 

* perducto Pincianus ; perductum BA. 

" i.e., in possession of a perfect, an encyclopaedic, wisdom. 


Evil men harm evil men ; each debases the other 
by rousing his wrath, by approving his churhshness, 
and praising his pleasures ; bad men are at their 
worst stage when their faults are most thoroughly 
intermingled, and their wickedness has been, so to 
speak, pooled in partnership. Conversely, therefore, 
a good man will help another good man. " How ? " 
you ask. Because he will bring joy to the other, he 
will strengthen his faith, and from the contemplation 
of their mutual tranquillity the delight of both will be 
increased. Moreover, they will communicate to each 
other a knowledge of certain facts ; for the wise 
man is not all-knowing.** And even if he were all- 
knowing, someone might be able to devise and point 
out short cuts, by which the whole matter is more 
readily disseminated. The wise will help the wise, 
not, mark you, because of his own strength merely, 
but because of the strength of the man whom he 
assists. The latter, it is true, can by himself develop 
his own parts ; nevertheless, even one who is running 
well is helped by one who cheers him on. 

" But the wise man does not really help the wise ; 
he helps himself. Let me tell you this : strip the 
one of his special powers, and the other will accom- 
plish nothing." You might as well, on that basis, 
say that sweetness is not in the honey : for it is the 
person himself who is to eat it, that is so equipped, 
as to tongue and palate, for tasting this kind of food 
that the special flavour appeals to them, and anything 
else displeases. For there are certain men so affected 
by disease that they regard honey as bitter. Both 
men should be in good health, that the one may be 
helpful and the other a proper subject for help. 
Again they say : " When the highest degree of heat 
has been attained, it is superfluous to apply more 

VOL. Ill s 257 


vacuum est, et in summum perducto bonum super- 
vacuum est si ^ qui prosit. Numquid instructus 
omnibus rebus agricola ab alio instrui quaerit ? 
Numquid armatus miles, quantum in aciem exituro 
satis est tuti,^ amplius arma desiderat ? Ergo nee 
sapiens ; satis enim vitae instructus, satis armatus 
9 est." Ad haec respondeo : et qui in summo est 
calore, opus est calore adiecto,^ ut summum teneat. 
" Sed ipse se," inquit, " calor continet." Primum 
multum interest inter ista, quae comparas ; calor 
enim unus est, prodesse varium est. Deinde calor 
non adiuvatur adiectione caloris, ut caleat ; sapiens 
non potest in habitu mentis suae stare, nisi amicos 
aliquos similes sui admisit, cum quibus virtutes suas 

10 communicet. Adice nunc, quod omnibus inter se 
virtutibus amicitia est. Itaque prodest, qui virtutes 
alicuius paris sui* amat amandasque invicem prae- 
stat. Similia delectant, utique ubi honesta sunt et 

11 probare ac probari sciunt. Etiamnunc sapientis 
animum perite movere nemo alius potest quam 
sapiens, sicut hominem movere rationaliter non potest 
nisi homo. Quomodo ergo ad rationem movendam 
ratione opus est, sic ut moveatur ratio perfecta, opus 
est ratione perfecta. 

12 Prodesse dicuntur et qui media nobis largiuntur, 
pecuniam, gratiam, incolumitatem, alia in usus vitae 

^ si add. Buecheler. 

* tuti Buecheler ; uti BA. 

^ in . . . adiecto Madvig ; in summa motus est calore 
adiecto BA 

* paris sui Buecheler ; partes sui BA ; pares suis later 

» In other words, Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Self- 
Restraint, together with the other qualities of simplicity, 
kindness, etc., being " avatars " of Virtue herself, are inter- 



heat ; and when the Supreme Good has been attained, 
it is superfluous to have a helper. Does a com- 
pletely stocked farmer ask for further supplies from 
his neighbours ? Does a soldier who is sufficiently 
armed for going well-equipped into action need any 
more weapons ? Very well, neither does the wise 
man ; for he is sufficiently equipped and sufficiently 
armed for life." My answer to this is, that when 
one is heated to the highest degree, one must have 
continued heat to maintain the highest temperature. 
And if it be objected that heat is self-maintaining, 
I say that there are great distinctions among the 
things that you are comparing ; for heat is a single 
thing, but helpfulness is of many kinds. Again, 
heat is not helped by the addition of further 
heat, in order to be hot ; but the wise man 
cannot maintain his mental standard without inter- 
course with friends of his own kind — with whom he 
may share his goodness. Moreover, there is a sort 
of mutual friendship among all the virtues.* Thus, 
he who loves the virtues of certain among his peers, 
and in turn exhibits his own to be loved, is helpful. 
Like things give pleasure, especially when they are 
honourable and when men know that there is mutual 
approval. And besides, none but a wise man can 
prompt another wise man's soul in an intelligent way, 
just as man can be prompted in a rational way by 
man only. As, therefore, reason is necessary for the 
prompting of reason, so, in order to prompt perfect 
reason, there is need of perfect reason. 

Some say that we are helped even by those * who 
bestow on us the so-called " indifferent " benefits, 
such as money, influence, security, and all the other 

'' e.g., certain of the Peripatetic school. 



cara aut necessaria. In his dicetur etiam stultus 
prodesse sapienti. Prodesse autem est animum 
secundum naturam movere virtute sua ut eius, qui 
movebitur. Hoc non sine ipsius quoque, qui proderit, 
bono fiet. Necesse enim alienam virtutem exercendo 

13 exerceat et suam. Sed ut removeas ista. quae aut 
summa bona sunt aut summorum efficientia, nihilo- 
minus prodesse inter se sapientes possunt. Invenire 
enim sapientem sapienti per se res expetenda ^ est, 
quia natura bonum omne carum est bono et sic 
quisque conciliatur bono quemadmodum sibi. 

14 Necesse est ex hac quaestione argumenti causa in 
alteram transeam. Quaeritur enim, an deliberaturus 
sit sapiens, an in consilium aliquem advocaturus. 
Quod facere illi necessarium est, cum ad haec civilia 
et domestica venitur et, ut ita dicam, mortalia. In 
his sic illi opus est aheno consilio quomodo medico, 
quomodo gubernatori, quomodo advocato et litis 
ordinatori. Proderit ergo sapiens aliquando sapienti, 
suadebit enim, Sed in illis quoque magnis ac divinis, 
ut diximus, communiter honesta tractando et animos 

15 cogitationesque miscendo utilis erit. Praeterea 

secundum naturam est et amicos complecti et 

amicorum auctu ^ ut suo proprioque laetari. Nam 

nisi hoc fecerimus, ne virtus quidem nobis per- 

manebit, quae exercendo sensu valet. Virtus autem 

^ expetenda later MSS. ; excedenda BA^. 
^ auctu Haase ; actu BA. 


valued or essential aids to living. If we argue in this 
way, the veriest fool will be said to help a wise man. 
Helping, however, really means prompting the soul 
in accordance with Nature, both by the prompter's 
excellence and by the excellence of him who is thus 
prompted. And this cannot take place without 
advantage to the helper also. For in training the 
excellence of another, a man must necessarily train 
his own. But, to omit from discussion supreme goods 
or the things which produce them, wise men can 
none the less be mutually helpful. For the mere 
discovery of a sage by a sage is in itself a desirable 
event ; since everything good is naturally dear to 
the good man, and for this reason one feels congenial 
with a good man as one feels congenial with oneself. 
It is necessary for me to pass from this topic to 
another, in order to prove my point. For the question 
is asked, whether the wise man will weigh his opinions, 
or whether he will apply to others for advice. Now 
he is compelled to do this when he approaches state 
and home duties — everything, so to speak, that is 
mortal. He needs outside advice on such matters, 
as does the physician, the pilot, the attorney, or 
the pleader of cases. Hence, the wise will some- 
times help the wise ; for they will persuade each 
other. But in these matters of great import also, — 
aye, of divine import, as I have termed them, — the 
wise man can also be useful by discussing honourable 
things in common, and by contributing his thoughts 
and ideas. Moreover, it is in accordance with Nature 
to show affection for our friends, and to rejoice in 
their advancement as if it were absolutely our own. 
For if we have not done this, even virtue, which 
grows strong only through exercising our perceptions, 
will not abide with us. Now virtue advises us to 



suadet praesentia bene conlocare, in futurum con- 
sulere, deliberare et intendere animum ; facilius 
intendet explicabitque qui aliquem sibi adsumpserit. 
Quaeret itaque aut perfectum virum aut pro- 
ficientem vicinumque perfecto. Proderit autem ille 
perfectus, si consilium communi prudentia iuverit. 

16 Aiunt homines plus in alieno negotio videre. Vitio ^ 
hoc illis evenit, quos amor sui excaecat quibusque 
dispectum utilitatis timor in periculis excutit ; incipiet 
sapere securior et extra metum positus. Sed nihilo- 
minus quaedam sunt, quae etiam sapientes in alio 
quam in se diligentius vident. Praeterea illud dul- 
cissimum et honestissimum " idem velle atque idem 
nolle " sapiens sapienti praestabit ; egregium opus 
pari iugo ducet. 

17 Persolvi id ^ quod exegeras, quamquam in ordine 
rerum erat, quas moralis philosophiae voluminibus 
complectimur. Cogita, quod soleo frequenter tibi 
dicer e, in istis nos nihil aUud quam acumen exercere. 
Totiens enim illo revertor : quid ista me res iuvat ? 
Fortiorem fac iam, iustiorem, temperantiorem. 
Nondum exerceri vacat ; adhuc medico mihi opus 

18 est. Quid me poscis scientiam inutilem ? Magna 
promisisti ; exige, vide. Dicebas intrepidum fore, 

^ vitio later MSS. ; initio BA. 
^ persolvi id Windhaus ; persolvit BA. 

" Sallust, Cat. xx. 4 idem velle atque idem nolle, ea 
demum firma amicitia est. 

* Cf. Ep. cviii. 1 and note. 


arrange the present well, to take thought regarding 
the future, to deliberate and apply our minds ; and 
one who takes a friend into council with him, can 
more easily apply his mind and think out his 

Therefore he will seek either the perfect wise 
man or one who has progressed to a point bordering 
on perfection. The perfect wise man, moreover, 
will help us if he aids our counsels with ordinary 
good sense. They say that men see farther in the 
affairs of others than in their own. A defect of 
character causes this in those who are blinded by self- 
love, and whose fear in the hour of peril takes away 
their clear view of that which is useful ; it is when a 
man is more at ease and freed from fear that he will 
begin to be wise. Nevertheless, there are certain 
matters where even wise men see the facts more 
clearly in the case of others than in their own. 
Besides, that sweet and honourable condition where 
" men always desire and always refuse the same 
things," '^ will be afforded by the association of the 
wise with the wise ; each will draw a noble burden 
when yoked equally together ! 

I have thus answered your demand, although it 
came under the head of subj ects which I include in 
my volumes On Moral Philosophy}* Reflect, as I 
am often wont to tell you, that there is nothing in 
such topics for us except mental gymnastics. For I 
return again and again to the thought : " What 
good does this do me ? Make me more brave now, 
more just, more restrained ! I have not yet the 
opportunity to make use of my training ; for I still 
need the physician. Why do you ask of me a useless 
knowledge ? You have promised great things ; test 
me, watch me ! You assured me that I should be 



etiam si circa me gladii micarent, etiam si mucro 
tangeret iugulum ; dicebas securum fore, etiam si 
circa mie flagrarent incendia, etiam si subitus turbo 
toto navem meam mari raperet. Hanc mihi praesta 
curam, ut^ voluptatem, ut gloriam contemnam. 
Postea docebis inplicta solvere, ambigua distinguere, 
obscura perspicere ; nunc doce quod necesse est. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Ex Nomentano meo te saluto et iubeo habere 
mentem bonam, hoc est propitios deos omnis, quos 
habet placatos et faventes, quisquis sibi se propitiavit. 
Sepone in praesentia, quae quibusdam placent, uni- 
cuique nostrum paedagogum dari deum, non quidem 
ordinarium, sed hunc inferioris notae ex eorum 
numero, quos Ovidius ait " de plebe deos." Ita 
tamen hoc seponas volo, ut memineris maiores nostros, 
qui crediderunt, Stoicos fuisse ; singulis enim et 

2 Genium et lunonem dederunt. Postea videbimus, 
an tantum dis vacet, ut privatorum negotia pro- 
curent ; interim illud scito, sive adsignati sumus, 
sive neglecti et fortunae dati, nulli te posse inprecari 

^ praesta curam ut Hense ; praestaturum BA. 

<• Cf. Ep. civ. 1. 

* Metam. i. 595, — a Roman interpretation, along the lines 
of the Di Indigetes. 

" Every man had his Genius, and every woman her Juno. 
In the case of the Stoics, God dwelt in every soul. 


unterrified though swords were flashing round me, 
though the point of the blade were grazing my 
throat ; you assured me that I should be at ease 
though fires were blazing round me, or though a 
sudden whirlwind should snatch up my ship and carry 
it over all the sea. Now make good for me such a 
course of treatment that I may despise pleasure and 
glory. Thereafter you shall teach me to work out 
complicated problems, to settle doubtful points, to 
see through that which is not clear ; teach me now 
what it is necessary for me to know ! " Farewell. 


From my villa at Nomentum," I send you greeting 
and bid you keep a sound spirit within you — in 
other words, gain the blessing of all the gods, for 
he is assured of their grace and favour who has 
become a blessing to himself. Lay aside for the 
present the belief of certain persons — that a god is 
assigned to each one of us as a sort of attendant — 
not a god of regular rank, but one of a lower grade 
— one of those whom Ovid calls " plebeian gods." ^ 
Yet, while laying aside this belief, I would have 
you remember that our ancestors, who followed such 
a creed, have become Stoics ; for they have assigned 
a Genius or a Juno to every individual.** Later on 
we shall investigate whether the gods have enough 
time on their hands to care for the concerns of 
private individuals ; in the meantime, you must 
know that whether we are allotted to special guar- 
dians, or whether we are neglected and consigned 
to Fortune, you can curse a man with no heavier 



quicquam gravius, quam si inprecatus fueris, ut se 
habeat iratum. 

Sed non est quare cuiquam, quern poena putaveris 
dignum, optes, ut infestos deos habeat ; habet, 
inquam, etiam si videtur eorum favore produci. 

3 Adhibe diligentiam tuam et intuere, quid sint res 
nostrae, non quid vocentur ; et seies plura mala 
contingere nobis quam accidere. Quotiens enim 
felicitatis et ^ causa et initium fuit, quod calamitas 
vocabatur ? Quotiens magna gratulatione excepta 
res gradum sibi struxit in praeceps et aliquem iam 
eminentem adlevavit etiamnunc, tamquam adhuc ibi 

4 staret, unde tuto cadunt ? Sed ipsum lllud cadere 
non habet in se mah quidquam, si exitum spectes, 
ultra quem natura neminem deiecit. Prope est 
rerum omnium terminus, prope est, inquam, et illud, 
unde fehx eicitur, et illud, unde infelix emittitur ; 
nos utraque extendimus et longa spe ac metu 

Sed si sapis, omnia humana condicione metire ; 
simul et quod gaudes et quod times, contrahe. Est 
autem tanti nihil diu gaudere, ne quid diu timeas. 

5 Sed quare istuc malum adstringo ? Non est quod 
quicquam timendum putes. Vana sunt ista, quae 
nos movent, quae attonitos habent. Nemo nostrum 
quid veri esset, excussit, sed metum alter alteri 
tradidit ; nemo ausus est ad id, quo perturbabatur, 

^ et Schweighaeuser ; est BA. 
" i.e., death, in Stoic language. 


curse than to pray that he may be at enmity with 

There is no reason, however, why you should ask 
the gods to be hostile to anyone whom you regard 
as deserving of punishment ; they are hostile to such 
a person, I maintain, even though he seems to be 
advanced by their favour. Apply careful investiga- 
tion, considering how our affairs actually stand, and 
not what men say of them ; you will then understand 
that evils are more likely to help us than to harm 
us. For how often has so-called affliction been 
the source and the beginning of happiness ! How 
often have privileges which we welcomed with 
deep thanksgiving built steps for themselves to the 
top of a precipice, still uplifting men who were already 
distinguished — just as if they had previously stood 
in a position whence they could fall in safety ! But 
this very fall has in it nothing evil, if you consider 
the end,** after which nature lays no man lower. 
The universal limit is near ; yes, there is near us 
the point where the prosperous man is upset, and 
the point where the unfortunate is set free. It is 
we ourselves that extend both these limits, lengthen- 
ing them by our hopes and by our fears. 

If, however, you are wise, measure all things 
according to the state of man ; restrict at the same 
time both your joys and your fears. Moreover, it 
is worth while not to rejoice at anything for long, 
so that you may not fear anything for long. But 
why do I confine the scope of this evil ? There is 
no reason why you should suppose that anything is 
to be feared. All these things which stir us and 
keep us a-flutter, are empty things. None of us has 
sifted out the truth ; we have passed fear on to one 
another ; none has dared to approach the object which 



accedere et naturam ac bonum timoris sxii nosse. 
Itaque res falsa et inanis habet adhuc fidem, quia 

6 non coarguitur. Tanti putemus oculos intendei-e ; 
iam apparebit, quam brevia, quam incerta, quam tuta 
timeantur. Talis est animorum nostrorum confusio, 
qualis Lucretio visa est : 

Nam veluti pueri trepidant atque omnia caecis 
In tenebris metuunt, ita nos in luce timemus. 

Quid ergo ? Non omni puero stultiores sumus qui 

7 in luce timemus ? Sed falsum est, Lucreti, non 
timemus in luce ; omnia nobis fecimus tenebras. 
Niliil videmus, nee quid noceat nee quid expediat ; 
tota vita incursitamus nee ob hoc resistimus aut 
circumspectius pedem ponimus. Vides autem, quam 
sit furiosa res in tenebris impetus. At mehercules 
id agimus, ut longius revocandi simus, et cum 
ignoremus, quo feraraur, velociter tamen illo, quo 
intendimus, perseveramus. 

8 Sed lucescere, si velimus, potest. Uno autem 
modo potest, si quis hanc humanorum divinorumque 
notitiam scientia acceperit, si ilia se non perfudei'it, 
sed infecerit, si eadem, quamvis sciat, retractaverit 
et ad se saepe rettulerit, si quaesierit, quae sint bona, 
quae mala, quibus hoc falso sit nomen adscriptum, 
si quaesierit de honestis et turpibus, de providentia. 

9 Nee ^ intra haec humani ingenii sagacitas sistitur ; 

1 nee later MSS. ; et BA. 

" De Berum Nat. ii. 55 f. 
'> i.e.,, to the starting-point. 



caused his dread, and to understand the nature of his 
fear — aye, the good behind it. That is why false- 
hood and vanity still gain credit — because they are 
not refuted. Let us account it worth while to look 
closely at the matter ; then it will be clear how 
fleeting, how unsure, and how harmless are the 
things which we fear. The disturbance in our spirits 
is similar to that which Lucretius detected : 

Like boys who cower frightened in the dark, 
So grown-ups in the h'ght of day feel fear." 

What, then ? Are we not more foolish than any 
child, we who " in the light of day feel fear " ? 
But you were wrong, Lucretius ; we are not afraid 
in the daylight ; we have turned everything into a 
state of darkness. We see neither what injures nor 
what profits us ; all our lives through we blunder 
along, neither stopping nor treading more carefully 
on this account. But you see what madness it is to 
rush ahead in the dark. Indeed, we are bent on 
getting ourselves called back * from a greater distance ; 
and though we do not know our goal, yet we hasten 
with wild speed in the direction whither we are 

The light, however, may begin to shine, provided we 
are willing. But such a result can come about only in 
one way — if we acquire by knowledge this familiarity 
with things divine and human, if the light does not 
flood itself over us but sinks deep into us, if a man 
reviews the same principles even though he under- 
stands them, and applies them again and again to him- 
self, if he has investigated what is good, what is evil, 
and what has falsely been so entitled ; and, finally, 
if he has investigated honour and baseness, and Pro- 
vidence. The range of the human intelBgence is not 



prospicere et ultra mundum libet, quo feratur, unde 
surrexerit, in quern exitum tanta rerum velocitas 
properet. • Ab hac divina contemplatione abductum 
animum in sordida et humilia pertraximus, ut avari- 
tiae serviret, ut relicto mundo terminisque eius et 
dominis cuncta versantibus terram rimaretur et 
quaereret, quid ex ilia mali efFoderet, non contentus 
oblatis . 

10 Quidquid nobis bono futurum erat, deus et parens 
noster in proximo posuit ; non expectavit inquisi- 
tionem nostram et ultro dedit. Nocitura altissime 
pressit. Nihil nisi de nobis queri possumus ; ea, 
quibus periremus, nolente rerum natura et abscon- 
dente protulimus. Addiximus animum voluptati, cui 
indulgere initium omnium malorum est, tradidimus 
ambition! et famae, ceteris aeque vanis et inanibus. 

11 Quid ergo nunc te hortor ut facias ? Nihil novi — 
nee enim novis malis remedia quaeruntur — sed hoc 
primum, ut tecum ipse dispicias, quid sit necessarium, 
quid supervacuum. Necessaria tibi ubique occurrent ; 
supervacua et semper et ^ toto animo quaerenda sunt. 

12 Non est autem quod te nimis laudes, si contempseris 
aureos lectos et gemmeam supellectilem. Quae est 
enim virtus supervacua contemnere ? Tunc te ad- 

1 et later MSS. ; om. BA^ 


confined within these limits ; it may also explore out- 
side the universe — its destination and its source, and 
the ruin towards which all nature hastens so rapidly. 
We have withdrawn the soul from this divine contem- 
plation and dragged it into mean and lowly tasks, so 
that it might be a slave to greed, so that it might 
forsake the universe and its confines, and, under the 
command of masters who try all possible schemes, pry 
beneath the earth and seek what evil it can dig up 
therefrom — discontented with that which was freely 
offered to it. 

Now God, who is the Father of us all, has placed 
ready to our hands those things which he intended 
for our own good ; he did not wait for any search 
on our part, and he gave them to us voluntarily. 
But that which would be injurious, he buried deep 
in the earth. We can complain of nothing but our- 
selves ; for we have brought to light the materials 
for our destruction, against the will of Nature, who 
hid them from us. We have bound over our souls 
to pleasure, whose service is the source of all evil ; 
we have surrendered ourselves to self-seeking and 
reputation, and to other aims which are equally idle 
and useless. 

What, then, do I now encourage you to do ? 
Nothing new — we are not trying to find cures for 
new evils — but this first of all : namely, to see clearly 
for yourself what is necessary and what is super- 
fluous. What is necessary will meet you every- 
where ; what is superfluous has always to be hunted 
out — and with great endeavour. But there is no 
reason why you should flatter yourself over-much 
if you despise gilded couches and jewelled furniture. 
For what virtue lies in despising useless things ? 
The time to admire your own conduct is when you 



mirare, cum contempseris necessaria. Non magnam 
rem facis, quod vivere sine regio ^ apparatu potes, 
quod non desideras milliarios apros nee linguas 
phoenicopterorum et alia portenta luxuriae iam tota 
animalia fastidientis et certa membra ex singulis 
eligentis ; tunc te admirabor, si contempseris etiam 
sordidum panem, si tibi persuaseris herbam, ubi 
necesse est, non pecori tantum, sed homini nasci, si 
scieris cacumina arborum explementum esse ventris, 
in quem sic pretiosa congerimus tamquam recepta 
servantem. Sine fastidio inplendus est. Quid enim 
ad rem pertinet, quid accipiat perditurus quicquid 

13 acceperit ? Delectant te disposita, quae terra mari- 
que capiuntur, alia eo gratiora, si recentia perferuntur 
ad mensam, alia, si diu pasta et coacta pinguescere 
fluunt ac vix saginam continent suam. Delectat te 
nidor ^ horum arte quaesitus. At mehercules ista 
sollicite scrutata varieque condita cum subierint ven- 
trem, una atque eadem foeditas occupabit. Vis 
ciborum voluptatem contemnere ? Exitum specta. 

14 Attalum memini cum magna admiratione omnium 
haec dicere : 

" Diu," inquit, " mihi inposuere divitiae. Stupe- 
bam, ubi aliquid ex illis alio atque alio loco fulserat. 
Existimabam similia esse quae laterent, his, quae 
ostenderentur. Sed in quodam apparatu vidi totas 
opes urbis caelatas et auro et argento et iis, quae 

^ regio later MSS. ; recto BA. 
* nidor codd. Pine. ; nitor BA. 

" i.e., acorns, etc. 



have come to despise the necessities. You are doing 
no great thing if you can Hve without royal pomp, if 
you feel no craving for boars which weigh a thousand 
pounds, or for flamingo tongues, or for the other 
absurdities of a luxury that already wearies of game 
cooked whole, and chooses different bits from separate 
animals ; I shall admire you only when you have 
learned to scorn even the common sort of bread, 
when you have made yourself believe that grass 
grows for the needs of men as well as of cattle, 
when you have found out that food from the tree- 
top ** can fill the belly — into which we cram things 
of value as if it could keep what it has received. 
We should satisfy our stomachs without being over- 
nice. How does it matter what the stomach receives, 
since it must lose whatever it has received ? You 
enjoy the carefully arranged dainties which are 
caught on land and sea ; some are more pleasing if 
they are brought fresh to the table, others, if after 
long feeding and forced fattening they almost melt 
and can hardly retain their own grease. You like 
the subtly devised flavour of these dishes. But I 
assure you that such carefully chosen and variously 
seasoned dishes, once they have entered the belly, 
will be overtaken alike by one and the same corrup- 
tion. Would you despise the pleasures of eating ? 
Then consider its result ! I remember some words 
of Attains, which elicited general applause : 

" Riches long deceived me. I used to be dazed 
when I caught some gleam of them here and there. 
I used to think that their hidden influence matched 
their visible show. But once, at a certain elaborate 
entertainment, I saw embossed work in silver and 
gold equalling the wealth of a whole city, and colours 
and tapestry devised to match objects which sur- 

VOL. Ill T 273 


pretium auri argentique vicerunt, exquisites colores 
et vestes ultra non tantum nostrum, sed ultra finem 
hostium advectas ; hinc puerorum perspicuos cultu 
atque forma greges, hinc feminarum, et alia, quae 
res suas recognoscens summi imperii fortuna pro- 

15 tulerat. Quid hoc est, inquam, aliud nisi ^ inritare 
cupiditates hominum per se incitatas ? Quid sibi 
vult ista pecuniae pompa ? Ad discendam avaritiam 
convenimus ? At mehercules minus cupiditatis istinc 
efFero quam adtuleram. Contempsi divitias, non quia 

16 supervacuae, sed quia pusillae sunt. Vidistine, quam 
intra paucas horas ille ordo quamvis lentus dis- 
positusque transient ? Hoc totam vitam nostram 
occupavit, quod totum diem occupare non potuit ? 

" Accessit illud quoque : tam supervacuae mihi visae 

17 sunt habentibus quam fuerunt spectantibus. Hoc 
itaque ipse mihi dico, quotiens tale aliquid praestrin- 
xerit oculos meos, quotiens occurrit domus splendida, 
cohors culta servorum, lectica formonsis inposita 
calonibus : Quid miraris ? Quid stupes ? Pompa 
est. Ostenduntur istae res, non possidentur, et dum 

18 placent, transeunt. Ad veras potius te converte 
divitias. Disce parvo esse contentus et illam vocem 
magnus atque animosus exclama : * habemus aquam, 
habemus polentam, lovi ipsi controversiam de felici- 
tate 2 faciamus.' Faciamus, oro te, etiam si ista 
defuerint. Turpe est beatam vitam in auro et 

^ aliud nisi later MSS. ; aliud BA. 
2 felicitate later MSS. ; facilitate BA. 



passed the value of gold or of silver — brought not 
only from beyond our own borders, but from beyond 
the borders of our enemies ; on one side were slave- 
boys notable for their training and beauty, on 
the other were throngs of slave-women, and all the 
other resources that a prosperous and mighty empire 
could offer after reviewing its possessions. What 
else is this, I said to myself, than a stirring-up of 
man's cravings, which are in themselves provocative 
of lust ? What is the meaning of all this display of 
money ? Did we gather merely to learn what greed 
was ? For my own part I left the place with less 
craving than I had when I entered. I came to 
despise riches, not because of their uselessness, but 
because of their pettiness. Have you noticed how, 
inside a few hours, that programme, however slow- 
moving and carefully arranged, was over and done ? 
Has a business filled up this whole life of ours, which 
could not fill up a whole day ? 

" I had another thought also : the riches seemed 
to me to be as useless to the possessors as they were 
to the onlookers. Accordingly, I say to myself, 
whenever a show of that sort dazzles my eyes, when- 
ever I see a splendid palace with a well-groomed corps 
of attendants and beautiful bearers carrying a htter : 
Why wonder ? Why gape in astonishment ? It is 
all show ; such things are displayed, not possessed ; 
while they please they pass away. Turn thyself 
rather to the true riches. Learn to be content with 
little, and cry out with courage and with greatness 
of soul : ' We have water, we have porridge ; let 
us compete in happiness with Jupiter himself.' And 
why not, I pray thee, make this challenge even 
without porridge and water ? For it is base to make 
the happy life depend upon silver and gold, and 



argento reponere, aeque turpe in aqua et polenta. 

19 ' Quid ergo faciam, si ista non fuerint ? ' Quaeris, 
quod sit remedium inopiae ? Famem fames finit ; 
alioquin quid interest, magna sint an exigua, quae 
servire te cogant ? Quid refert, quantulum sit, quod 

20 tibi possit negare fortuna ? Haec ipsa aqua et 
polenta in alienum arbitrium cadit. Liber est autem 
non in quern parum licet fortunae, sed in quem nihil. 
Ita ^ est : nihil desideres oportet, si vis lovem 
provocare nihil desiderantem," 

Haec nobis Attalus dixit ^ ; quae si voles fre- 
quenter cogitare, id ages, ut sis felix, non ut videaris, 
et ut tibi videaris, non aliis. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Quid vocentur Latine sophismata, quaesisti a me. 
Multi temptaverunt illis nomen inponere, nullum 
haesit. Videlicet, quia res ipsa non recipiebatur a 
nobis nee in usu erat, nomini quoque repugnatum 
est. Aptissimum tamen videtur mihi, quo Cicero 

2 usus est : cavillationes vocat. Quibus quisquis se 
tradidit, quaestiunculas quidem vafras nectit, ceterum 
ad vitam nihil proficit, neque fortior fit neque 
temperantior neque elatior. 

^ ita later MSS. ; ista BA. 

^ After dixit later MSS. have natura omnibus dixit ; om. 



just as base to make it depend upon water and 
porridge. ' But,' some will say, ' what could I do 
without such things ? ' Do you ask what is the cure 
for want ? It is to make hunger satisfy hunger ; 
for, all else being equal, what difference is there in 
the smallness or the largeness of the things that 
force you to be a slave ? What matter how little 
it is that Fortune can refuse to you ? Your very 
porridge and water can fall under another's jurisdic- 
tion ; and besides, freedom comes, not to him over 
whom Fortune has slight power, but to him over 
whom she has no power at all. This is what I mean : 
you must crave nothing, if you would vie with 
Jupiter ; for Jupiter craves nothing." 

This is what Attains told us. If you are willing 
to think often of these things, you will strive not to 
seem happy, but to he happy, and, in addition, to 
seem happy to yourself rather than to others. 


You have asked me to give you a Latin word for 
the Greek sophismata. Many have tried to define 
the term, but no name has stuck. This is natural, 
inasmuch as the thing itself has not been admitted 
to general use by us ; the name, too, has met with 
opposition. But the word which Cicero used seems 
to me most suitable : he calls them cavillationes . If 
a man has surrendered himself to them, he weaves 
many a tricky subtlety, but makes no progress 
toward real living ; he does not thereby become 
braver, or more restrained, or loftier of spirit. 



At ille, qui philosophiam in remedium suum 
exercuit, ingens fit animo, plenus fiduciae, inex- 

3 superabilis et maior adeunti. Quod in magnis evenit 
montibus, quorum proceritas minus apparet longe 
intuentibus ; cum accesseris, tunc manifestum fit, 
quo in arduo summa sint ; talis est, mi Lucili, verus 
et rebus, non artificiis philosophus. In edito stat 
admirabilis, celsus, magnitudinis verae. Non exsurgit 
in plantas nee summis ambulat digitis eorum more, 
qui mendacio staturam adiuvant longioresque quam 
sunt, videri volunt ; contentus est magnitudine sua, 

4 Quidni contentus sit eo usque crevisse, quo manus 
fortuna non porrigit ? Ergo et supra humana est 
et par sibi in omni statu rerum, sive secundo cursu 
vita procedit, sive fluctuatur et it ^ per adversa ac 
difficilia ; hanc constantiam cavillationes istae, de 
quibus paulo ante loquebar, praestare non possunt. 
Ludit istis animus, non proficit, et philosophiam a 
fastigio suo deducit in planum. 

5 Nee te prohibuerim aliquando ista agere, sed tunc, 
cum voles nihil agere. Hoc tamen habent in se 
pessimum : dulcedinem quandam sui faciunt et 
animum specie subtilitatis inductum tenent ac 
morantur, cum tanta rerum moles vocet, cum vix 
tota vita sufficiat, ut hoc unum discas, vitam con- 
temnere. "Quid? Regere,"inquis, Secundum opus 

^ it added by Rossbach. 


He, however, who has practised philosophy to effect 
his own cure, becomes high-souled, full of confidence, 
invincible, and greater as you draw near him. This 
phenomenon is seen in the case of high mountains, 
which appear less lofty when beheld from afar, but 
which prove clearly how high the peaks are when you 
come near them ; such, my dear LuciUus, is our true 
philosopher, true by his acts and not by his tricks. 
He stands in a high place, worthy of admiration, 
lofty, and really great. He does not stretch himself 
or walk on tiptoe like those who seek to improve 
their height by deceit, wishing to seem taller than 
they really are ; he is content with his own great- 
ness. And why should he not be content with 
having grown to such a height that Fortune cannot 
reach her hands to it ? He is therefore above 
earthly things, equal to himself under all conditions, 
— whether the current of life runs free, or whether 
he is tossed and travels on troubled and desperate 
seas ; but this steadfastness cannot be gained through 
such hair-splittings as I have just mentioned. The 
mind plays with them, but profits not a whit ; the 
mind in such cases is simply dragging philosophy 
down from her heights to the level ground. 

I would not forbid you to practise such exercises 
occasionally ; but let it be at a time when you wish 
to do nothing. The worst feature, however, that 
these indulgences present is that they acquire a sort 
of self-made charm, occupying and holding the soul 
by a show of subtlety ; although such weighty 
matters claim our attention, and a whole life seems 
scarcely sufficient to learn the single principle of 
despising life. " What ? Did you not mean ' con- 
trol ' instead of ' despise ' " ? No ; " controlling " 



est ; nam nemo illam bene rexit nisi qui contemp- 
serat. Vale. 

Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Cupio mehercules amicum tuum formari, ut desi- 
deras, et institui ; sed valde durus capitur, immo, 
quod est molestius, valde mollis capitur et con- 
suetudine mala ac diutina fractus. 

Volo tibi ex nostro artificio exemplum referre. 

2 Non quaelibet insitionem vitis patitur ; si vetus et 
exesa est, si infirma gracilisque, aut non recipiet 
surculum aut non alet nee adplicabit sibi nee in 
qualitatem eius naturamque transibit. Itaque so- 
lemus supra terram praecidere, ut si non respondit, 
temptari possit secunda fortuna, et iterum repetita 
infra terram inseratur. 

3 Hie, de quo scribis et mandas, non habet vires ; 
indulsit vitiis. Simul et emarcuit et induruit. Non 
potest recipere rationem, non potest nutrire. " At 
cupit ipse." Noli credere. Non dico ilium mentiri 
tibi ; putat se cupere. Stomachum illi fecit luxuria ; 

4 cito cum ilia redibit in gratiam. " Sed dicit se 
olfendi vita sua." Non negaverim. Quis enim non 
ofFenditur ? Homines vitia sua et amant simul et 
oderunt. Tunc itaque de illo feremus sententiam, 

" Seneca was an extensive and prosperous vine-grower. 
Compare Ep. civ. 6 f. for his description of his hobby at 
the country-place near Nomentum. There are many figures 
which deal with the vine scattered through the Letters. 



is the second task ; for no one has controlled his 
life aright unless he has first learned to despise it. 


I am indeed anxious that your friend be moulded 
and trained, according to your desire. But he has 
been taken in a very hardened state, or rather (and 
this is a more difficult problem), in a very soft state, 
broken down by bad and inveterate habits. 

I should like to give you an illustration from my 
own handicraft.*" It is not every vine that admits 
the grafting process ; if it be old and decayed, or if it 
be weak and slender, the vine either will not receive 
the cutting, or will not nourish it and make it a part 
of itself, nor will it accommodate itself to the qualities 
and nature of the grafted part. Hence we usually 
cut off the vine above ground, so that if we do not 
get results at first, we may try a second venture, and 
on a second trial graft it below the ground. 

Now this person, concerning whom you have sent 
me your message in Avriting, has no strength ; for 
he has pampered his vices. He has at one and the 
same time become flabby and hardened. He cannot 
receive reason, nor can he nourish it. " But," you 
say, " he desires reason of his own free will." Don't 
believe him. Of course I do not mean that he is 
lying to you ; for he really thinks that he desires it. 
Luxury has merely upset his stomach ; he will soon 
become reconciled to it again. " But he says that 
he is put out with his former way of living." Very 
likely. Who is not ? Men love and hate their vices 
at the same time. It will be the proper season to 
pass judgment on him when he has given us a 



cum fidem nobis fecerit invisam iam sibi esse luxii- 
riam ; nunc illis male convenit. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Desideras tibi scribi a me, quid sentiam de hac 
quaestione iactata ^ apud nostros : an iustitia, 
fortitudo, prudentia ceteraeque virtutes animalia 
sint. Hac subtilitate efFecimus, Lucili carissime, ut 
exercere ingenium inter inrita videremur et dis- 
putationibus nihil profuturis otium terere. Faciam 
quod desideras, et quid nostris videatur, exponam. 
Sed me in alia esse sententia profiteor : puto quaedam 
esse, quae deceant phaecasiatum palliatumque. Quae 
sint ergo quae antiques moverint, vel quae sint quae 
antiqui moverint, dicam, 

2 Animum constat animal esse, cum ipse efficiat, ut 
simus animalia, cum ab illo animalia nomen hoc 
traxerint. Virtus autem nihil aliud est quam animus 
quodammodo se habens ; ergo animal est. Deinde 
virtus agit aliquid ; agi autem nihil sine impetu 
potest. Si impetum habet, qui nulli est nisi animah, 
animal est. " Si animal est," inquit, " virtus, habet 
ipsa virtutem." Quidni habeat se ipsam ? Quo- 

3 modo sapiens omnia per virtutem gerit, sic virtus per 

^ iactata Hense ; iacta BA. 

" The fulfilment of the promise made in Ep. cvi. 3 (see 
note ad loc). 

* The allusion is sarcastic. The phaecasium was a white 
shoe worn by Greek priests and Athenian gymnasiarchs, — 
sometimes aped by Romans. 

* i.e., animal from animris, anima (" breath of life "). 


guarantee that he really hates luxury ; as it is now, 
luxury and he are merely not on speaking terms. 


You wish me to write to you my opinion concerning 
this question, which has been mooted by our school — 
whether justice, courage, foresight, and the other 
virtues, are living things.* 'By such niceties as this, 
my beloved Lucilius, we have made people think 
that we sharpen our wits on useless objects, and 
waste our leisure time in discussions that will be un- 
profitable. I shall, however, do as you ask, and shall 
set forth the subject as viewed by our school. For 
myself, I confesg to another belief : I hold that there 
are certain things which befit a wearer of white shoes 
and a Greek mantle.^ But what the behefs are that 
have stirred the ancients, or those which the ancients 
have stirred up for discussion, I shall explain to you. 

The soul, men are agreed, is a living thing, because 
of itself it can make us living things, and because 
" living things " '' have derived their name there- 
from. But virtue is nothing else than a soul in a 
certain condition ; therefore it is a living thing. 
Again, virtue is active, and no action can take place 
without impulse. And if a thing has impulse, it 
must be a living thing ; for none except a Hving 
thing possesses impulse. A reply to this is : " If 
virtue is a living thing, then virtue itself possesses 
virtue." Of course it possesses its ovni self ! Just 
as the wise man does everything by reason of 
virtue, so virtue accomphshes everything by reason 



se. " Ergo," inquit, " et omnes artes animalia sunt 
et omnia, quae cogitamus quaeque mente con- 
plectimur. Sequitur, ut multa millia animalium 
habitent in his angustiis pectoris, et singuli multa 
simus animalia aut multa habeamus animalia." 

Quaeris, quid adversus istud respondeatur ? Una- 
quaeque ex istis res animal erit ; multa animalia non 
erunt. Quare ? Dicam, si mihi aceommodaveris 

4 subtilitatem et intentionem tuam. Singula animalia 
singulas habere debent substantias ; ista omnia unum 
animum habent ; itaque singula esse possunt, multa 
esse non possunt. Ego et animal sum et homo, non 
tamen duos esse nos dices. Quare ? Quia separati 
debent esse. Ita dico : alter ab altero debet esse 
diductus, ut duo sint. Quicquid in uno multiplex 
est, sub unam naturam cadit ; itaque unum est. 

5 Et animus meus animal est et ego animal sum, duo 
tamen non sumus. Quare ? Quia animus mei pars 
est. Tunc aliquid per se numerabitur, cum per se 
stabit. Ubi vero alterius membrum erit, non poterit 
videri aliud. Quare ? Dicam : quia quod aliud est, 
suum oportet esse et proprium et totum et intra se 

6 absolutum. Ego in alia esse me sententia professus 
sum. Non enim tantum virtutes animalia erunt, si 
hoc recipitur, sed opposita quoque illis vitia et 

" i.e., from those who hold that the man, the soul, and 
the functions of the soul, can be classed as separate entities ; 
or even from those who believe that it is worth while to 
discuss the matter at all. See § 1 of this Letter. 



of itself. " In that case," say they, " all the arts 
also are living things, and all our thoughts and all 
that the mind comprehends. It therefore follows 
that many thousands of living things dwell in man's 
tiny heart, and that each individual among us consists 
of, or at least contains, many living beings." 

Are you gravelled for an answer to this remark ? 
Each of these will be a living thing ; but they will 
not be many separate living things. And why ? I 
shall explain, if you will apply your subtlety and 
your concentration to my words. Each living thing 
must have a separate substance ; but since all the 
things mentioned above have a single soul, con- 
sequently they can be separate living things but 
without plurality. I myself am a living thing, and a 
man ; but you cannot say that there are two of me 
for that reason. And why ? Because, if that were 
so, they would have to be two separate existences. 
This is what I mean : one would have to be sundered 
from the other so as to produce two. But when- 
ever you have that which is manifold in one whole, 
it falls into the category of a single nature, and is 
therefore single. 

My soul is a living thing, and so am I ; but we 
are not two separate persons. And why ? Because 
the soul is part of myself. It will only be reckoned 
as a definite thing in itself, when it shall exist by 
itself. But as long as it shall be part of another, it 
cannot be regarded as different. And why ? I will 
tell you : it is because that which is different, must 
be personal and peculiar to itself, a whole, and com- 
plete within itself. I myself have gone on record as 
being of a different opinion ; * for if one adopts this 
belief, not only the virtues will be living things, but 
so will their contrary vices, and the emotions, like 



adfectus, tamquam ira, timor, luctus, suspicio. Ultra 
res ista procedet ; omnes sententiae, omnes cogita- 
tiones animalia erunt. Quod nullo modo recipiendum 
est. Non enim quicquid ab homine fit, homo est. 

7 " lustitia quid est ? " inquit. Animus quodammodo 
se habens. " Itaque si animus animal est, et iustitia." 
Minime.i Haec enim habitus animi est et quaedam 
vis ; idem animus in varias figuras convertitur et non 
totiens animal aliud ^ est, quotiens aliud facit. Nee 

8 illud, quod fit ab animo, animal est. Si ^ iustitia 
animal est, si ^ fortitudo, si ceterae * virtutes, utrum 
desinunt esse animalia, subinde autem ^ rursus in- 
cipiunt, an semper sunt ? 

Desinere virtutes non possunt. Ergo multa ani- 
malia, immo innumerabiUa, in hoc animo versantur. 

9 " Non sunt," inquit, " multa, quia ex uno rehgata 
sunt et partes unius ac membra sunt." Talem ergo 
faciem animi nobis proponimus, qualis est hydrae 
multa habentis capita, quorum unumquodque per se 
pugnat, per se nocet. Atqui nullum ex ilhs capitibus 
animal est, sed animalis caput, ceterum ipsa unum 
animal est. Nemo in Chimaera leonem animal esse 
dixit aut draconem ; hae partes erant eius ; partes 
autem non sunt animalia. Quid est, quo colligas 

10 iustitiam animal esse ? " Agit," inquit, " aliquid et 
prodest. Quod autem agit et prodest, impetum 

^ iustitia minime later MSS. ; iustitiam in me BA. 

^ aliud later MSS. ; alius BA. 

' si before iustitia a-ndi fortitudo added by Muretus. 

* si ceterae Muretus ; sic ceterae (cetetre) BA. 

^ autem edd. ; aut or ut MSS. 

" Homer, II, vi. 181 irplxrde \4uv, 6irLdev 5k 5p6.Kwv, jxicati 


wrath, fear, grief, and suspicion. Nay, the argu- 
ment will carry us still further — all opinions and all 
thoughts will be living things. This is by no means 
admissible ; since anything that man does is not 
necessarily the man himself. " What is Justice ? " 
people say. Justice is a soul that maintains itself in 
a certain attitude. " Then if the soul is a living 
being, so is Justice." By no means. For Justice is 
really a state, a kind of power, of the soul ; and this 
same soul is transformed into various Hkenesses and 
does not become a different kind of living thing as 
often as it acts differently. Nor is the result of soul- 
action a living thing. If Justice, Bravery, and the 
other virtues have actual life, do they cease to be 
living things and then begin life over again, or are 
they always living things ? 

But the virtues cannot cease to be. Therefore, 
there are many, nay countless, living things, sojourn- 
ing in this one soul. " No," is the answer, " not 
many, because they are all attached to the one, being 
parts and members of a single whole." We are then 
portraying for ourselves an image of the soul 
like that of a many-headed hydra — each separate 
head fighting and destroying independently. And 
yet there is no separate living thing to each head ; 
it is the head of a living thing, and the hydra itself 
is one single living thing. No one ever believed that 
the Chimaera contained a living lion or a living 
serpent ; <* these were merely parts of the whole 
Chimaera; and parts are not living things. Then 
how can you infer that Justice is a living thing ? 
" Justice," people reply, " is active and helpful ; 
that which acts and is helpful, possesses impulse ; 

5^ xifJiaipa. This is a frequent illustration of the " whole and 
the parts " among ancient philosophers. 



habet ; quod autem impetum habet,^ animal est." 
Verum est, si suum impetum habet ; suum autem non 

11 habet,^ sed animi. Omne animal, donee moriatur, id 
est, quod coepit ; homo, donee moriatur, homo est, 
equus equus, canis canis.^ Transire in aliud non 
potest. lustitia, id est animus quodammodo se habens, 
animal est. Credamus ; deinde animal est fortitudo, 
id est animus quodammodo se habens. Quis animus ? 
Ille , qui modo iustitia erat ? Tenetur in priore animali, 
in aliud animal transire ei non licet ; in eo illi, in quo 

12 primum esse coepit, perseverandum est. Praeterea 
unus animus duorum esse animalium non potest, 
multo minus plurium. Si iustitia, fortitudo, tempe- 
rantia ceteraeque virtutes animalia sunt, quo modo 
unum animum habebunt ? Singulos habeant oportet, 

13 aut non sunt animalia, Non potest unum corpus 
plurium animalium esse. Hoc et ipsi fatentur. 
lustitiae quod est corpus ? "Animus." Quid? For- 
titudinis quod est corpus ? " Idem animus." Atqui 
unum corpus esse duorum animalium non potest. 

14 " Sed idem animus," inquit, " iustitiae habitum induit* 
et fortitudinis et temperantiae." Hoc fieri posset, si 
quo tempore iustitia esset, fortitudo non esset, quo 
tempore fortitudo esset, temperantia non esset ; 
nunc vero omnes virtutes simul sunt. Ita quomodo 
singulae erunt animalia, cum unus animus sit, qui 
plus quam unum animal non potest facere ? 

^ quod . . , habet added by later MSS. ; om. BA. 

" mum . . . habet later MSS. ; om. BA. 

' equus equus, canis canis edd. ; equus canis BA. 

* induit later MSS. ; inbuit BA. 

" i.e., the form in which it is contained. 

* The soul is " body," " world-stuff " (not " matter " in 
the modern sense). It is therefore, accoraing to the Stoics, 
a living entity, a unit ; and Virtue is a Sict^etris ^vxv^, — 
a " permanent disposition of the soul." 


and that which possesses impulse is a hving thing." 
True, if the impulse is its own ; (but in the case of 
justice it is not its own ;) the impulse comes from 
the soul. Every living thing exists as it began, until 
death ; a man, until he dies, is a man, a horse is a 
horse, a dog a dog. They cannot change into any- 
thing else. Now let us grant that Justice — which 
is defined as " a soul in a certain attitude," is a living 
thing. Let us suppose this to be so. Then Bravery 
also is alive, being " a soul in a certain attitude." 
But which soul ? That which was but now defined 
as Justice ? The soul is kept within the first-named 
being, and cannot cross over into another ; it must 
last out its existence in the medium where it had its 
origin. Besides, there cannot be one soul to two 
living things, much less to many living things. And 
if Justice, Bravery, Restraint, and all the other 
virtues, are living things, how will they have one 
soul ? They must possess separate souls, or else 
they are not living things. Several living things 
cannot have one body ; this is admitted by our very 
opponents. Now what is the " body " *" of justice ? 
" The soul," they admit. And of bravery ? " The 
soul also." And yet there cannot be one body of 
two living things. " The same soul, however," they 
answer, " assumes the guise of Justice, or Bravery, 
or Restraint." This would be possible if Bravery 
were absent when Justice was present, and if Re- 
straint were absent when Bravery was present ; as 
the case stands now, all the virtues exist at the same 
time. Hence, how can the separate virtues be living 
things, if you grant that there is one single soul,^ which 
cannot create more than one single living thing ? 
VOL. Ill u 289 


15 Denique nullum animal pars est alterius animalis. 
lustitia autem pars est animi ; non est ergo animal. 
Videor mihi in re confessa perdere operam ; magis 
enim indignandum de isto quam disputandum est. 
Nullum animal alteri par est. Circumspice omnium 
corpora : nulli non et color proprius est et figura sua 

16 et magnitudo. Inter cetera, propter quae mirabile 
divini artificis ingenium est, hoc quoque existimo, et 
quod in tanta copia rerum numquam in idem incidit ; 
etiam quae similia videntur, cum contuleris, diversa 
sunt. Tot fecit genera foliorum : nullum non sua 
proprietate signatum. Tot animalia : nullius mag- 
nitudo cum altero convenit, utique aliquid interest. 
Exegit a se, ut quae alia erant, et dissimilia essent 
et inparia ; virtutes omnes, ut dicitis, pares sunt. 
Ergo non sunt animalia. 

17 Nullum non animal per se agit. Virtus autem per 
se nihil agit, sed cum homine. Omnia animalia aut 
rationalia sunt, ut homines, ut di, aut inrationalia, ut 
ferae, ut pecora.^ Virtutes utique rationales sunt ; 
atqui nee homines sunt nee di ; ergo non sunt 

18 animalia. Omne rationale animal nihil agit, nisi 
primum specie alicuius rei inritatum est, deinde 
impetum cepit, deinde adsensio confirmavit hunc 
impetum. Quid sit adsensio, dicam. Oportet me 
ambulare : tunc demum ambulo, cum hoc mihi dixi 
et adprobavi hanc opinionem meam. Oportet me 
sedere : tunc demum sedeo. Haec adsensio in 

^ aut . . . pecora later MSS. ; om. BA. 

" The usual progression was ataO-qcTLS (sensus), (pavraaLa 
{species, " external impression "), a-vyKardOeffis (adsensus), 
and KaTd\r}\f/is {comprehensio). See Ep. xcv. 62 note. 


Again, no living thing is part of another living 
thing. But Justice is a part of the soul ; therefore 
Justice is not a living thing. It looks as if I were 
wasting time over something that is an acknowledged 
fact ; for one ought to decry such a topic rather 
than debate it. And no two living things are equal. 
Consider the bodies of all beings : every one has its 
particular colour, shape, and size. And among the 
other reasons for marvelling at the genius of the 
Divine Creator is, I believe, this, — that amid all this 
abundance there is no repetition ; evqn seemingly 
similar things are, on comparison, unlike. God has 
created all the great number of leaves that we 
behold : each, however, is stamped with its special 
pattern. All the many animals : none resembles 
another in size — always some difference ! The 
Creator has set himself the task of making unlike 
and unequal things that are different ; but all 
the virtues, as your argument states, are equal. 
Therefore, they are not living things. 

Every Hving thing acts of itself ; but virtue does 
nothing of itself; it must act in conjunction with 
man. All Uving things either are gifted with reason, 
like men and gods, or else are irrational, like beasts 
and cattle. Virtues, in any case, are rational ; and 
yet they are neither men nor gods ; therefore they 
are not living things. Every living thing possessed 
of reason is inactive if it is not first stirred by some 
external impression ; then the impulse comes, and 
finally assent confirms the impulse." Now what 
assent is, I shall explain. Suppose that I ought to 
take a walk : I do walk, but only after uttering 
the command to myself and approving this opinion 
of mine. Or suppose that I ought to seat myself ; 
I do seat myself, but only after the same process. 



19 virtute non est. Puta enim prudentiam esse ; quo- 
modo adsentietur " oportet me ambulare " ? Hoc 
natura non reeipit. Prudentia enim ei, cuius est, 
prospicit, non sibi. Nam nee ambulare potest nee 
sedere. Ergo adsensionem non habet, rationale 
animal non est. Virtus si animal est, rationale est. 

20 Rationale autem non est ; ergo nee animal. Si virtus 
animal est, virtus autem bonum, non est omne bonum 
animal ? Est. Hoc nostri fatentur. 

Patrem servare bonum est, et sententiam prudenter 
in senatu dicfere bonum est, et iuste decernere bonum 
est ; ergo et ^ patrem servare animal est et prudenter 
sententiam dicere animal est. Eo usque res exegit, 
ut risum tenere non possis : prudenter tacere bonum 
est, frugaliter cenare bonum est ^ ; ita et tacere et 

21 cenare animal est. Ego mehercules titillare non 
desinam et ludos mihi ex istis subtilibus ineptiis 
facere. lustitia et fortitudo, si animalia sunt, certe 
terrestria sunt. Omne animal terrestre alget, esurit, 
sitit ; ergo iustitia alget, fortitudo esurit, dementia 

22 Quid porro ? Non interrogabo illos, quam figuram 
habeant ista animalia ? Hominis an equi an ferae ? 
Si rotundam illis qualem deo dederint, quaeram, an 
et avaritia et luxuria et dementia aeque rotundae 
sint. Sunt enim et ipsae animalia. Si has quoque 

1 et later MSS. ; ut BA. 

^ frugaliter {bene) cenare bonum est Hense and later MSS.; 
om. BA. 

" This problem is discussed from another angle in Ep. 
Iviii. 16. 

* i.e., the virtues. 


This assent is not a part of virtue. For let us 
suppose that it is Prudence ; how will Prudence 
assent to the opinion : "I must take a walk " ? 
Nature does not allow this. For Prudence looks 
after the interests of its possessor, and not of its 
own self. Prudence cannot walk or be seated. 
Accordingly, it does not possess the power of assent, 
and it is not a living thing possessed of reason. 
But if virtue is a Uving thing, it is rational. But it 
is not rational ; therefore it is not a living thing. 
If virtue is a living thing, and virtue is a Good — is 
not, then, every Good a living thing ? It is. Our 
school professes it. 

Now to save a father's life is a Good ; it is also 
a Good to pronounce one's opinion judiciously in the 
senate, and it is a Good to hand down just opinions ; 
therefore the act of saving a father's life is a living 
thing, also the act of pronouncing judicious opinions. 
We have carried this absurd argument so far that 
you cannot keep from laughing outright : wise silence 
is a Good, and so is a frugal dinner ; therefore silence 
and dining are living things." Indeed I shall never 
cease to tickle my mind and to make sport for 
myself by means of this nice nonsense. Justice and 
Bravery, if they are living things, are certainly of 
the earth. Now every earthly living thing gets cold 
or hungry or thirsty ; therefore. Justice goes a-cold, 
Bravery is hungry, and Kindness craves a drink ! 

And what next ? Should I not ask our honourable 
opponents what shape these living beings ^ have ? Is 
it that of man, or horse, or wild beast ? If they are 
given a round shape, like that of a god, I shall ask 
whether greed and luxury and madness are equally 
round. For these, too, are " living things." If I 
find that they give a rounded shape to these also, I 


conrotundaverint, etiamnunc interrogabo, an prudens 
ambulatio animal sit. Necesse est confiteantur, 
deinde dicant ambulationem animal esse et quidem 

23 Ne putes autem primum me ^ ex nostris non ex 
praescripto loqui, sed meae sententiae esse : inter 
Cleanthen et discipulum eius Chrysippum non con- 
venit, quid sit ambulatio. Cleanthes ait spiritum 
esse a principali usque in pedes permissum, Chrys- 
ippus ipsum principale. Quid ^ est ergo, cur non 
ipsius Chrysippi exemplo sibi quisque se vindicet et 
ista tot animalia, quot mundus ipse non potest 

24 capere, derideat ? " Non sunt," inquit, " virtutes 
multa animalia, et tamen animalia sunt. Nam quem- 
admodum aliquis et poeta est et orator, et tamen 
unus, sic virtutes istae animalia sunt, sed multa non 
sunt. Idem est animus et animus ^ et iustus et 
prudens et fortis, ad singulas virtutes quodammodo 

25 se habens." Sublata controversia ^ convenit nobis. 
Nam et ego interim fateor animum animal esse, 
postea visurus, quam de ista re sententiam feram ; 
actiones eius animalia esse nego. Alioqui et omnia 
verba erunt animalia et omnes versus ; nam si 
prudens sermo bonum est, bonum autem omne 
animal est, sermo animal est.^ Prudens versus bonum 
est, bonum autem omne animal est ; versus ergo 
animal est. Ita " arma virumque cano," animal est, 
quod non possunt rotundum dicere, cum sex pedes 

^ me added by Hermes. ^ quid later MSS. ; quod BA. 

' et animus MSS. ; del. vulg. 

* suhlata controversia Brakman ; sublata MSS. 

* sermo animal est vulg. ; om. MSS. 

" Cleanthes, Frag. 525 von Arnim ; Chrysippus, Frag. 
836 von Arnim. The former would seem to be more in 
accord with general Stoic views. 


shall go so far as to ask whether a modest gait is a 
living thing ; they must admit it, according to their 
argument, and proceed to say that a gait is a living 
thing, and a rounded living thing, at that ! 

Now do not imagine that I am the first one of our 
school who does not speak from rules but has his 
own opinion : Cleanthes and his pupil Chrysippus 
could not agree in defining the act of walking. 
Cleanthes held that it was spirit transmitted to the 
feet from the primal essence, while Chrysippus main- 
tained that it was the primal essence in itself." 
Why, then, following the example of Chrysippus 
himself, should not every man claim his own free- 
dom, and laugh down all these " living things," — 
so numerous that the universe itself cannot contain 
them ? One might say : " The virtues are not 
many living things, and yet they are living things. 
For just as an individual may be both poet and 
orator in one, even so these virtues are living things, 
but they are not many. The soul is the same ; 
it can be at the same time just and prudent and 
brave, maintaining itself in a certain attitude to- 
wards each virtue." The dispute is settled, and we 
are therefore agreed. For I shall admit, meanwhile, 
that the soul is a living thing with the proviso that 
later on I may cast my final vote ; but I deny that 
the acts of the soul are living beings. Otherwise, 
all words and all verses would be alive ; for if 
prudent speech is a Good, and every Good a living 
thing, then speech is a living thing. A' prudent line 
of poetry is a Good ; everything alive is a Good ; 
therefore, the line of poetry is a living thing. And 
so " Arms and the man I sing," is a living thing ; but 
they cannot call it rounded, because it has six 



26 habeat. " Textorium," inquis, " totum mehercules 
istud, quod cum maxime agitur." Dissilio risu, cum 
mihi propono soloecismum animal esse et bar- 
barismum et synlogismum et aptas illis facies tam- 
quam pictor adsigno. Haec disputamus attractis 
superciliis, fronte rugosa ? Non possum hoc loco 
dicere illud Caelianum : " O tristes ineptias ! " 
Ridiculae sunt. Quin itaque potius aliquid utile 
nobis ac salutare tractamus et quaerimus, quomodo 
ad virtutes pervenire possimus, quae nos ad illas via 

27 Doce me non an fortitudo animal sit, sed nullum 
animal felix esse sine fortitudine, nisi contra fortuita 
convaluit et omnis casus,^ antequam exciperet, 
meditando praedomuit. Quid est fortitudo ? Muni- 
mentum humanae imbecillitatis inexpugnabile, quod 
qui circumdedit sibi, securus in hac 'vitae obsidione 

28 perdurat ; utitur enim suis viribus, suis telis. Hoc 
loco tibi Posidonii nostri referre sententiam volo : 
" Non est quod umquam fortunae armis putes esse 
te tutum ; tuis pugna. Contra ipsam fortuna non 
armat ; itaque contra hostes instruct!, contra ipsam 
inermes sunt." 

29 Alexander Persas quidem et Hyrcanos et Indos et 
quicquid gentium usque in oceanum extendit oriens, 
vastabat fugabatque, sed ipse modo occiso amico, 
modo amisso iacebat in tenebris, alias scelus, alias 

^ casus later MSS. ; causas BA. 

" Caeciliamum (the reading of later MSS.) would refer to 
Statius Caecilius, the comic writer of the second century b.c. 
Caelianum (B and A) would indicate M. Caelius Rufus, the 
orator and contemporary of Cicero and Catullus. 

* 334-330 B.C. 

" See Ep. xciv. 63 f., and notes. 

** e.g., the execution of Parmenio in Media and the murder 
of Cleitus in Samarkand. 



feet ! " This whole proposition," you say, " which 
we are at this moment discussing, is a puzzling 
fabric." I split with laughter whenever I reflect 
that solecisms and barbarisms and syllogisms are 
living things, and, like an artist, I give to each a 
fitting likeness. Is this what we discuss with con- 
tracted brow and wrinkled forehead ? I cannot say 
now, after Caelius," " What melancholy trifling ! " 
It is more than this ; it is absurd. Why do we 
not rather discuss something which is useful and 
wholesome to ourselves, seeking how we may attain 
the virtues, and finding the path which will take us 
in that direction ? 

Teach me, not whether Bravery be a living thing, 
but prove that no living thing is happy without 
bravery, that is, unless it has grown strong to oppose 
hazards and has overcome all the strokes of chance by 
rehearsing and anticipating their attack. And what 
is Bravery ? It is the impregnable fortress for our 
mortal weakness ; when a man has surrounded himself 
therewith, he can hold out free from anxiety during 
life's siege ; for he is using his own strength and his 
own weapons. At this point I would quote you a 
saying of our philosopher Posidonius : " There are 
never any occasions when you need think yourself 
safe because you wield the weapons of Fortune ; 
fight with your own ! Fortune does not furnish arms 
against herself; hence men equipped against their 
foes are unarmed against Fortune herself." 

Alexander, to be sure, harried and put to flight 
the Persians,^ the Hyrcanians, the Indians, and all 
the other races that the Orient spreads even to the 
Ocean ; " but he himself, as he slew one friend 
or lost another, would lie in the darkness lamenting 
sometimes his crime, and sometimes his loss ; <* 



desiderium suum maerens, victor tot regum atque 
populorum irae tristitiaeque succumbens. Id enim 
egerat, ut omnia potius haberet in potestate quam 

30 adfectus. O quam magnis homines tenentur erro- 
ribus, qui ius dominandi trans maria cupiunt per- 
mittere felicissimosque se indicant, si multas ^ milite ^ 
provincias optinent et novas veteribus adiungunt, 
ignari, quod sit illud ingens parque dis regnum. 

31 Imperare sibi maximum imperium est. Doceat me, 
quam sacra res sit iustitia alienum bonum spectans, 
nihil ex se petens nisi usum sui. Nihil sit illi cum 
ambitione famaque ; sibi placeat. 

Hoc ante omnia sibi quisque persuadeat : me 
iustum esse gratis oportet. Parum est ; adhuc illud 
persuadeat sibi : me in hanc pulcherrimam virtutem 
ultro etiam inpendere iuvet. Tota cogitatio a pri- 
vatis commodis quam longissime aversa sit. Non est 
quod spectes, quod sit iustae rei praemium ; mains 
in iusto^ est. Illud adhuc tibi adfige, quod paulo 

32 ante dicebam : nihil ad rem pertinere, quam multi 
aequitatem tuam noverint. Qui virtutem suam 
publicari vult, non virtuti laborat, sed gloriae. Non 
vis esse iustus * sine gloria ? At mehercules saepe 
iustus esse debebis cum infamia. Et tunc, si sapis, 
mala opinio bene parta delectet. Vale. 

^ si multas later MSS. ; simulatas BA. 
^ milite Buecheler ; pro milite BA. 

' in iusto Schweighaeuser and Madvig ; iniustae BA ; 
in iustitia later MSS. 

* iustus later MSS. ; intus BA. 



he, the conqueror of so many kings and nations, 
was laid low by anger and grief ! For he had made 
it his aim to win control over everything except 
his emotions. Oh with what great mistakes are men 
obsessed, who desire to push their limits of empire 
beyond the seas, who judge themselves most pros- 
perous when they occupy many provinces with their 
soldiery and join new territory to the old ! Little 
do they know of that kingdom which is on an equality 
with the heavens in greatness ! Self-Command is 
the greatest command of all. Let her teach me 
what a hallowed thing is the Justice which ever 
regards another's good and seeks nothing for itself 
except its own employment. It should have nothing 
to do with ambition and reputation ; it should satisfy 

Let each man convince himself of this before all 
else — " I must be just without reward." And that 
is not enough ; let him convince himself also of this : 

May I take pleasure in devoting myself of my own 
free will to uphold this noblest of virtues." Let all 
his thoughts be turned as far as possible from personal 
interests. You need not look about for the reward 
of a just deed ; a just deed in itself offers a still 
greater return. Fasten deep in your mind that which 
I remarked a short space above : that it makes no 
difference how many persons are acquainted with 
your uprightness. Those who wish their virtue to 
be advertised are not striving for virtue but for 
renown. Are you not willing to be just without 
being renowned ? Nay, indeed you must often be 
just and be at the same time disgraced. And then, 
if you are wise, let ill repute, well won, be a delight. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Quare quibusdam temporibus provenerit corrupti 
generis oratio quaeris, et quomodo in quaedam vitia 
inclinatio ingeniorum facta sit, ut aliquando inflata 
explicatio vigeret, aliquando infracta et in morem 
cantici ducta ? Quare alias sensus audaces et fidem 
egressi placuerint, alias abruptae sententiae et suspi- 
ciosae, in quibus plus intellegendum esset quam 
audiendum ? Quare aliqua aetas fuerit, quae trans- 
lationis iure uteretur inverecunde ? Hoc quod audire 
vulgo soles, quod apud Graecos in proverbium cessit : 

2 talis hominibus fuit oratio qualis vita. Quemad- 
modum autem uniuscuiusque actio dicenti similis 
est, sic genus dicendi aliquando imitatur publicos 
mores, si ^ disciplina civitatis laboravit et se in delicias 
dedit. Argumentum est luxuriae publicae orationis 

3 lascivia, si modo non in uno aut in altero fuit, sed 
adprobata est et recepta. Non potest alius esse 
ingenio, alius animo color. Si ille sanus est, si com- 
positus, gravis, temperans, ingenium quoque siccum 
ac sobrium est ; illo vitiato hoc quoque adflatur. 
Non vides, si animus elanguit, trahi membra et 
pigre moveri pedes ? Si ille effeminatus est, in 

^ si later MSS. ; sic BA. 

" olos 6 jStos, ToiovTos Kai 6 \6yos. The saying is referred 
to Socrates by Cicero {Tusc. v. 47). 

* i.e., that inborn quality which is compounded of char- 
acter and intelHgence. 




You have been asking me why, during certain 
periods, a degenerate style of speech comes to the 
fore, and how it is that men's wits have gone down- 
hill into certain vices — in such a way that exposition 
at one time has taken on a kind of puffed-up strength, 
and at another has become mincing and modulated 
like the music of a concert piece. You wonder why 
sometimes bold ideas — bolder than one could believe 
— have been held in favour, and why at other times 
one meets with phrases that are disconnected and 
full of innuendo, into which one must read more 
meaning than was intended to meet the ear. Or 
why there have been epochs which maintained the 
right to a shameless use of metaphor. For answer, 
here is a phrase which you are wont to notice in the 
popular speech — one which the Greeks have made 
into a proverb : " Man's speech is just hke his life." ** 
Exactly as each individual man's actions seem to 
speak, so people's style of speaking often reproduces 
the general character of the time, if the morale of 
the public has relaxed and has given itself over to 
effeminacy. Wantonness in speech is proof of public 
luxury, if it is popular and fashionable, and not 
confined to one or two individual instances. A man's 
abihty *" cannot possibly be of one sort and his soul 
of another. If his soul be wholesome, well-ordered, 
serious, and restrained, his ability also is sound and 
sober. Conversely, when the one degenerates, the 
other is also contaminated. Do you not see that if a 
man's soul has become sluggish, his hmbs drag and 
his feet move indolently ? If it is womanish, that 



ipso incessu adparere mollitiam ? Si ille acer est 
et ferox, concitari gradum ? Si furit aut, quod furori 
simile est, irascitur, turbatum esse corporis motum 
nee ire, sed ferri ? 

Quanto hoc magis accidere ingenio putas, quod 
totum animo permixtum est ; ab illo fingitur, illi 

4 paret, inde legem petit. Quomodo Maecenas vixerit 
notius est, quam ut narrari nunc debeat, quomodo 
ambulaverit, quam delicatus fuerit, quam cupierit 
videri, quam vitia sua latere noluerit. Quid ergo ? 
Non oratio eius aeque soluta est quam ipse discinctus ? 
Non tam insignita illius verba sunt quam cultus, quam 
comitatus, quam domus, quam uxor ? Magni vir 
ingenii fuerat, si illud egisset via rectiore, si non 
vitasset intellegi, si non etiam in oratione difflueret. 
Videbis itaque eloquentiam ebrii hominis involutam 
et errantem et licentiae plenam.^ 

5 Quid turpius " amne silvisque ripa comantibus ? " 
Vide ut " alveum lintribus arent versoque vado ^ 
remittant hortos." Quid ? Si quis " feminae cinno 
crispat et labris columbatur incipitque suspirans, ut 
cervice lassa fanantur nemoris tyranni," " Inreme- 
diabilis factio rimantur epulis lagonaque temptant 

^ After plenam BA give Maecenas de cultu suo ; {in 
interpolation (Gruter). See Summers in C.Q. ii. 170 ff., 
and O. Hense, p. 548 (ed. of 1914), for a discussion of the 
quoted passages. 

* vado later MSS. ; vada BA. 

" Cf. Suetonius, Aug. 86, where the Emperor Maecenatem 
suum, cuius " myrobrechis" ut ait, " cincinnos " (" unguent- 
dripping curls " (Rolfe)) usque quaque persequitur et imi- 
tando per iocum irridet. Augustus here refers especially to 
the style of Maecenas as a writer. 

* Terentia. For her charms see Horace, Od. ii. 12 ; for 


one can detect the effeminacy by his very gait ? 
That a keen and confident soul quickens the step ? 
That madness in the soul, or anger (which resembles 
madness), hastens our bodily movements from walk- 
ing to rushing ? 

And how much more do you think that this affects 
one's ability, which is entirely interwoven with 
the soul, — being moulded thereby, obeying its com- 
mands, and deriving therefrom its laws ! How 
Maecenas lived is too well-known for present com- 
ment. We know how he walked, how effeminate he 
was, and how he desired to display himself; also, 
how unwilling he was that his vices should escape 
notice. What, then ? Does not the looseness of his 
speech match his ungirt attire ? " Are his habits, 
his attendants, his house, his wife,''' any less clearly 
marked than his words ? He would have been a 
man of great powers, had he set himself to his task 
by a straight path, had he not shrunk from making 
himself understood, had he not been so loose in his 
style of speech also. You will therefore see that his 
eloquence was that of an intoxicated man — twisting, 
turning, unlimited in its slackness. 

What is more unbecoming than the words : " "A 
stream and a bank covered with long-tressed woods " ? 
And see how " men plough the channel with boats 
and, turning up the shallows, leave gardens behind 
them." Or, " He curls his lady-locks, and bills and 
coos, and starts a-sighing, like a forest lord who 
offers prayers with down-bent neck." Or, " An 
unregenerate crew, they search out people at feasts, 
and assail households with the wine-cup, and, by hope, 

her faults see De prov. ill. 10, where Seneca calls her 
" petulant." 
" Maecenas, Frag. 1 1 Lunderstedt. 



domos et spe mortem exigunt." " Genium festo vis 
suo testem. Tenuisve cerei fila et crepacem molaml 
Focum mater aut uxor investiunt." 

6 Non statim, cum haec legeris, hoc tibi occurret, 
hunc esse, qui solutis tunicis in urbe semper in- 
cesserit ? Nam etiam cum absentis Caesaris partibus 
fungeretur, signum a discincto petebatur. Hunc esse 
qui in ^ tribunali, in rostris, in omni publico coetu r j- 
apparuerit, ut pallio velaretur caput exclusis utrimt 
auribus, non aliter quam in mimo fugitivi diit 
Solent ? Hunc esse, cui tunc maxime civilibus bat 
strepentibus et sollicita urbe et armata comitatus'i 
fuerit in publico spadones duo, magis tamen ^' 
quam ipse ? Hunc esse, qui uxorem milliens duxi, 
cum unam habuerit ? Haec verba tam improbe 

7 structa, tam neglegenter abiecta, tam contra con- 
suetudinem omnium posita ostendunt mores quoque 
non minus novos et pravos et singulares fuisse. 
Maxima laus illi tribuitur mansuetudinis, pepercit 
gladio, sanguine abstinuit nee ulla alia re, quid posset, 
quam licentia ostendit ; banc ipsam laudem suam 
corrupit istis orationis portentosissimae deliciis. 

8 Apparet enim mollem fuisse, non mitem. Hoc istae 
ambages compositionis, hoc verba transversa, hoc 
sensus miri,^ magni quidem saepe, sed enervati dum 

^ in later MSS. ; om. BA. 
* miri Buecheler ; mihi BA. 

* Instead of properly girt up — a mark of slackness. 

* For a similar mark of slovenliness, in Pompey's freed- 
man Demetrius, see Plutarch, Pompey, xl. 4. 

* i.e., often repulsed by his wife Terentia, and then re- 
stored to grace. 

"* e.g., in the Treaty of Brundisium (37 b.c), and often 
during the Triumvirate. 


exact death." Or, " A Genius could hardly bear 
witness to his own festival " ; or " threads of tiny 
tapers and crackling meal " ; " mothers or wives 
clothing the hearth." 

Can you not at once imagine, on reading through 

these words, that this was the man who always 

traded through the city with a flowing *• tunic ? 

r even if he was discharging the absent emperor's 

'■^.s, he was always in undress when they asked 

for the countersign. Or that this was the man 

o, as judge on the bench, or as an orator, or at 

y public function, appeared with his cloak wrapped 
■ jout his head, leaving only the ears exposed,*' like 
the milhonaire's runaway slaves in the farce ? Or 
that this was the man who, at the very time when 
the state was embroiled in civil strife, when the city 
was in difficulties and under martial law, was attended 
in public by two eunuchs — both of them more men 
than himself ? Or that this was the man who had 
but one wife, and yet was married countless times ? <* 
These words of his, put together so faultily, thrown 
off so carelessly, and arranged in such marked con- 
trast to the usual practice, declare that the character 
of their writer was equally unusual, unsound, and 
eccentric. To be sure, we bestow upon him the 
highest praise for his humanity ; he was sparing with 
the sword and refrained from bloodshed;*^ and he 
made a show of his power only in the course of his 
loose living ; but he spoiled, by such preposterous 
finickiness of style, this genuine praise, which was his 
due. For it is evident that he was not really gentle, 
but effeminate, as is proved by his misleading word- 
order, his inverted expressions, and the surprising 
thoughts which frequently contain something great, 

VOL. Ill X 30.5 


exeunt, cuivis manifestum facient. Motum illi felici- 
tate nimia caput. 

Quod vitium hominis esse interdum, interdum 
9 temporis solet. Ubi luxuriam late felicitas fudit, 
cultus ^ primum corporum esse diligentior incipit. 
Deinde supellectili laboratur. Deinde in ipsas domos' 
inpenditur cura, ut in laxitatem ruris excurrant, ut 
parietes advectis trans maria marmoribus fulgeant, ut 
tecta varientur auro, ut lacunaribus pavimentorum 
respondeat nitor. Deinde ad cenas lautitia trans- 
fertur, et illic commendatio ex novitate et soliti 
ordinis conamutatione captatur, ut ea, quae includere 
Solent cenam, prima ponantur, ut quae advenientibus 
dabantur, exeuntibus dentur. 

10 Cum adsuevit animus fastidire, quae ex more sunt, 
et illi pro sordidis solita sunt, etiam in oratione, quod 
novum est, quaerit et modo antiqua verba atque 
exsoleta revocat ac profert, modo fingit et ignota ac 
deflectit, modo, id quod nuper increbruit, pro cultu 

11 habetur audax translatio ac frequens. Sunt qui 
sensus praecidant et hoc gratiam sperent, si sententia 
pependerit et audienti suspicionem sui fecerit. Sunt 
qui illos^ detineant et porrigant. Sunt qui non 
usque ad vitium accedant, necesse est enim hoc 

* cultus Muretus ; luxus BA. 
^ illos later MSS. ; illo BA. 



but in finding expression have become nerveless. 
One would say that his head was turned by too 
great success. 

This fault is due sometimes to the man, and some- 
times to his epoch. When prosperity has spread 
luxury far and wide, men begin by paying closer 
attention to their personal appearance. Then they 
go crazy over furniture. Next, they devote atten- 
tion to their houses — how to take up more space 
with them, as if they were country-houses, how to 
make the walls glitter with marble that has been 
imported over seas, how to adorn a roof with gold, 
so that it may match the brightness of the inlaid 
floors. After that, they transfer their exquisite taste 
to the dinner-table, attempting to court approval by 
novelty and by departures from the customary order 
of dishes, so that the courses which we are accustomed 
to serve at the end of the meal may be served first, 
and so that the departing guests may partake of the 
kind of food which in former days was set before 
them on their arrival. 

When the mind has acquired the habit of scorning 
the usual things of life, and regarding as mean that 
which was once customary, it begins to hunt for 
novelties in speech also ; now it summons and dis- 
plays obsolete and old-fashioned words ; now it coins 
even unknown words or misshapes them ; and now 
a bold and frequent metaphorical usage is made a 
special feature of style, according to the fashion 
which has just become prevalent. Some cut the 
thoughts short, hoping to make a good impression 
by leaving the meaning in doubt and causing the 
hearer to suspect his own lack of wit. Some dwell 
upon them and lengthen them out. Others, too, 
approach just short of a fault — for a man must 



facere aliquid grande temptanti, sed qui ipsum 
vitium amerit. Itaque ubicumque videris orationem 
corruptam placere, ibi mores quoque a recto descivisse 
non erit dubium. 

Quomodo conviviorum luxuria, quomodo vestium 
aegrae civitatis indicia sunt, sic orationis licentia, si 
modo frequens est, ostendit animos quoque, a quibus 

12 verba exeunt, procidisse. Mirari quidem non debes 
corrupta excipi non tantum a ^ corona sordidiore, sed 
ab hac quoque turba cultiore, togis enim inter se 
isti, non iudiciis distant. Hoc magis mirari potes, 
quod non tantum vitiosa, sed vitia laudentur. Nam 
illud semper factum est : nullum sine venia placuit 
ingenium. Da mihi quemcumque vis, magni no- 
minis virum ^ ; dicam, quid illi aetas sua ignoverit, 
quid in illo sciens dissimulaverit. Multos tibi dabo, 
quibus vitia non nocuerint, quosdam, quibus pro- 
fuerint. Dabo, inquam, maximae famae et inter 
admiranda propositos, quos si quis corrigit, delet ; sic 
enim vitia virtutibus inmissa sunt, ut illas secum 

13 tractura sint. Adice nunc, quod oratio certam regu- 
1am non habet ; consuetudo illam civitatis, quae 
numquam in eodem diu stetit, versat. Multi ex 
alieno saeculo petunt verba, duodecim tabulas loquun- 
tur. Gracchus illis et Crassus et Curio nimis culti 
et recentes sunt, ad Appium usque et Coruncanium 
redeunt. Quidam contra, dum nihil nisi tritum et 

1 o later MSS. ; om. BA. 
* virum later MSS. ; utrum BA. 

" i.e., the " ring " of onlookers, the " pit." 

* Fifth century b.c. 

" i.e., from the second and first centuries b.c, back to 
the third century. 


really do this if he hopes to attain an imposing 
effect — but actually love the fault for its own sake. 
In short, whenever you notice that a degenerate 
style pleases the critics, you may be sure that 
character also has deviated from the right standard, 
/^ust as luxurious banquets and elaborate dress are 
indications of disease in the state, similarly a lax 
style, if it be popular, shows that the mind (which is 
the soui-ce of the word) has lost its balance. Indeed 
you ought not to wonder that corrupt speech is 
welcomed not merely by the more squalid mob ** but 
also by our more cultured throng ; for it is only in 
their dress and not in their judgments that they 
differ. You may rather wonder that not only the 
effects of vices, but even vices themselves, meet with 
approval. For it has ever been thus : no man's 
ability has ever been approved without something 
being pardoned Show me any man, however famous ; 
I can tell you what it was that his age forgave in him, 
and what it was that his age purposely overlooked. 
I can show you many men whose vices have caused 
them no harm, and not a few who have been even 
helped by these vices. Yes, I will show you persons 
of the highest reputation, set up as models for our 
admiration ; and yet if you seek to correct their 
errors, you destroy them ; for vices are so inter- 
twined with virtues that they drag the virtues along 
with them. Moreover, style has no fixed laws ; it 
is changed by the usage of the people, never the 
same for any length of time. Many orators hark 
back to earlier epochs for their vocabulary, speaking 
in the language of the Twelve Tables.^ Gracchus, 
Crassus, and Curio, in their eyes, are too refined and 
too modern ; so back to Appius and Coruncanius ! " 
Conversely, certain men, in their endeavour to main- 



14 usitatum volunt, in sordes incidunt. Utrumque 
diverse genere corruptum est, tarn mehercules quam 
nolle nisi splendidis uti ac sonantibus et poeticis, 
necessaria atque in usu posita vitare. Tam hunc 
dicam peccare quam ilium : alter se plus iusto colit, 
alter plus iusto neglegit ; ille et crura, hie ne alas 
quidem vellit. 

15 Ad compositionem transeamus. Quot genera tibi 
in hac dabo, quibus peccetur ? Quidam praefractam 
et asperam probant ; disturbant de industria, si quid 
placidius effluxit. Nolunt sine salebra esse iuncturam ; 
virilem putant et fortem, quae aurem inaequalitate 
percutiat. Quorundam non est compositio, modula- 

16 tio est ; adeo blanditur et moUiter labitur. Quid de ilia 
loquar, in qua verba difFeruntur et diu expectata vix 
ad cla\isulas redeunt ? Quid ilia in exitu lenta, qualis 
Ciceronis est, devexa et molliter detinens nee aliter 
quam solet, ad morem suum pedemque respondens ? 
Non tantum in genere sententiarum vitium est, si 
aut pusillae sunt et pueriles aut improbae et plus 
ausae quam pudore salvo licet, si floridae sunt et 
nimis dulces, si in vanum exeunt et sine efFectu nihil 
amplius quam sonant. 

17 Haec vitia unus aliquis inducit, sub quo tunc 
eloquentia est, ceteri imitantur et alter alteri tradunt. 

" The latter a reasonable mark of good breeding, the 
former an ostentatious bit of effeminacy. Summers cites 
Ovid, A. A. i. 506 " don't rub your legs smooth with the 
tight-scraping pumice-stone." 

* As Cicero (see Ep. xl. 1 1) was an example of the rhythmi- 
cal in style, so Pollio is the representative of the " bumpy " 
(salebrosa) manner {Ep. c. 7). 



tain nothing but well-worn and common usages, fall 
into a humdrum style. These two classes, each in 
its own way, are degenerate ; and it is no less 
degenerate to use no words except those which are 
conspicuous, high-sounding, and poetical, avoiding 
what is familiar and in ordinary usage. One is, I 
believe, as faulty as the other : the one class are 
unreasonably elaborate, the other are unreasonably 
negligent ; the former depilate the leg, the latter 
not even the armpit.* 

Let us now turn to the arrangement of words. In 
this department, what countless varieties of fault I 
can show you ! Some are all for abruptness and 
unevenness of style, purposely disarranging anything 
which seems to have a ^smooth flow of language. 
They would have jolts in all their transitions ; they 
regard as strong and manly whatever makes an un- 
even impression on the ear. With some others it is 
not so much an " arrangement " of words as it is a 
setting to music ; so wheedling and soft is their gliding 
style. And what shall I say of that arrangement in 
which words are put off and, after being long waited 
for, just manage to come in at the end of a period ? 
Or again of that softly-concluding style, Cicero- 
fashion,'' with a gradual and gently poised descent, 
always the same and always with the customary 
arrangement of the rhythm ! Nor is the fault only 
in the style of the sentences, if they are either petty 
and childish, or debasing, with more daring than 
modesty should allow, or if they are flowery and 
cloying, or if they end in emptiness, accomplishing 
mere sound and nothing more. 

Some individual makes these vices fashionable — 
some person who controls the eloquence of the day ; 
the rest folloAV his lead and communicate the habit 



Sic Sallustio vigente anputatae sententiae et verba 
ante exspectatum cadentia et obscura brevitas fuere 
pro cultu. L. Arruntius, vir rarae frugalitatis, qui 
historias belli Punioi scripsit, fuit Sallustianus et in 
illud genus nitens. Est apud Sallustium : " exer- 
citum argenta fecit," id est, pecunia paravit. Hoc 
Arruntius amare coepit ; posuit illud omnibus pa- 
ginis. Dicit quodam loco : " fugam nostris fecere." 
Alio loco : " Hiero, rex Syracusanorum, bellum fecit." 
Et alio loco : " quae audita Panhormitanos dedere 

18 Romanis fecere." Gustum tibi dare volui ; totus his 
contexitur liber. Quae apud Sallustium rara fuerunt, 
apud liunc crebra sunt et paene continua, nee sine 
causa ; ille enim in haec incidebat, at hie ilia quae- 
rebat. Vides autem, quid sequatur, ubi alicui vitium 

19 pro exemplo est. Dixit Sallustius : " aquis hieman- 
tibus." Arruntius in primo libro belli Punici ait : 
" repente hiemavit tempestas." Et alio loco cum 
dicere vellet frigidum annum fuisse, ait : " totus 
hiemavit annus." Et alio loco : " inde sexaginta 
onerarias leves praeter militem et necessarios nau- 
tarum hiemante aquilone misit." Non desinit om- 
nibus locis hoc verbum infulcire. Quodam loco dicit 
Sallustius : " inter arma civilia aequi bonique famas 
petit." Arruntius non temperavit, quo minus primo 

<• Flor. 40 B.C. 

* For these Sallust fragments see the edition of Kritz, 
Nos. 33, Jug. 37. 4, and 42 ; for Arruntius see H. Peter, 
Frag. Hist. Rom. ii. pp. 41 f. 

* Literally, " created," " made." 

^ " Brought to pass flight for our men " ; " Hiero, king 
of the Syracusans^ brought about war " ; " The news brought 
the men of Panormus " (now Palermo, Sicily) " to the point 
of surrendering to the Romans." 

* " Amid the wintry waters " ; " The storm suddenly grew 
wintry"; "The whole year was like winter"; "Then he 


to each other. Thus when Sallust " was in his glory, 
phrases were lopped off, words came to a close un- 
expectedly, and obscure conciseness was equivalent 
to elegance. L. Arruntius, a man of rare simplicity, 
author of a historical work on the Punic War, was a 
member and a strong supporter of the Sallust school. 
There is a phrase in Sallust : exercitum argento fecit, ^ 
meaning thereby that he recruited " an army by means 
of money. Arruntius began to like this idea ; he 
therefore inserted the verb facio all through his book. 
Hence, in one passage, fugam *nostris fecere^ ', in 
another, Hiero, rex Syracusanorum, helium fecit^', and, 
in another, quae audita Panhormitanos dedere Romanis 
fecerefi I merely desired to give you a taste ; his whole 
book is interwoven with such stuff as this. What 
Sallust reserved for occasional use, Arruntius makes 
into a frequent and almost continual habit — and there 
was a reason : for Sallust used the words as they 
occurred to his mind, while the other writer went 
afield in search of them. So you see the results of 
copying another man's vices. Again, Sallust said : 
aquis hiemantihus J' Arruntius, in his first book on the 
Punic War, uses the words : repente hiemavit tempestas.^ 
And elsewhere, wishing to describe an exceptionally 
cold year, he says : totus hiemavit annus.^ And in 
another passage : inde sexaginta oner arias leves praeter 
miliiem etnecessarios nautarum hiemante aquilone misit ^ ; 
and he continues to bolster many passages with this 
metaphor. In a certain place, Sallust gives the 
words : inter arma civilia aequi bonique famas ^ petit ; 
and Arruntius cannot restrain himself from men- 
dispatched sixty transports of light draught besides the 
soldiers and the necessary sailors amid a wintry storm." 

^ The peculiarity here is the use of the plural instead of 
the singular form. " Amid civil war he seeks reminders of 
justice and virtue." 



statim libro poneret ingentes esse " famas " de 

20 Haec ergo et eiusmodi vitia, quae alicui inpressit 
imitatio, non sunt indicia luxuriae nee animi corrupti ; 
propria enim esse debent et ex ipso nata, ex quibus 
tu aestimes alicuius adfectus. Iracundi hominis 
iracunda oratio est, coramoti nimis incitata, delicati 

21 tenera et fluxa. Quod vides istos sequi, qui aut 
vellunt barbam aut intervellunt, qui labra pressius 
tondent et adradunt servata et summissa cetera parte, 
qui lacernas coloris improbi sumunt, qui perlucentem 
togam, qui nolunt facere quicquam, quod hominum 
oculis transire liceat ; inritant illos et in se advertunt ; 
volunt vel reprehendi, dum conspici. Talis est oratio 
Maecenatis omniumque aliorum, qui non casu errant 

22 sed scientes volentesque. Hoc a magno animi malo 
oritur. Quomodo in vino non ante lingua titubat 
quam mens cessit oneri et inclinata vel prodita est, 
ita ista orationis ^ quid aliud quam ebrietas nulli 
molesta est, nisi animus labat ? Ideo ille curetur ; 
ab illo sensus, ab illo verba exeunt, ab illo nobis est 
habitus, vultus, incessus. Illo sano ac valente oratio 
quoque robusta, fortis, virilis est ; si ille procubuit, 
et cetera ruinam sequuntur. 

^ orationis Buecheler ; oratio nisi BA ; oratio later MSS. 


tioning at once, in the first book, that there were 
extensive " reminders " concerning Regulus. 

These and similar faults, which imitation stamps 
upon one's style, are not necessarily indications of 
loose standards or of debased mind ; for they are 
bound to be personal and peculiar to the writer, 
enabling one to judge thereby of a particular author's 
temperament ; just as an angry man will talk in an 
angry way, an excitable man in a flurried way, and 
an effeminate man in a style that is soft and un- 
resisting. You note this tendency in those who 
pluck out, or thin out, their beards, or who closely 
shear and shave the upper lip while preserving the 
rest of the hair and allowing it to grow, or in those 
who wear cloaks of outlandish colours, who wear 
transparent togas, and who never deign to do any- 
thing which will escape general notice ; they en- 
deavour to excite and attract men's attention, and 
they put up even with censure, provided that they 
can advertise themselves. That is the style of 
Maecenas and all the others who stray from the 
path, not by hazard, but consciously and voluntarily. 
This is the result of great evil in the soul. As in 
the case of drink, the tongue does not trip until the 
mind is overcome beneath its load and gives way or 
betrays itself ; so that intoxication of style — for 
what else than this can I call it ? — never gives 
trouble to anyone unless the soul begins to totter. 
Therefore, I say, take care of the soul ; for from 
the soul issue our thoughts, from the soul our 
words, from the soul our dispositions, our expres- 
sions, and our very gait. When the soul is sound 
and strong, the style too is vigorous, energetic, 
manly ; but if the soul lose its balance, down comes 
all the rest in ruins. 



23 Rege incolumi mens omnibus una est ; 
Amisso rupere fidem. 

Rex noster est animus. Hoc incolumi cetera manent 
in officio, parent, optemperant ; cum ille paulum 
vaccillavit, simul dubitant. Cum vero cessit volup- 
tati, artes quoque eius actusque marcent et omnis ex 

24 languido fluidoque conatus est^^^uoniam hac simili- 
tudine usus sum, perseverabo : animus noster modo 
rex est, modo tyrannus. Rex, cum honesta intuetur, 
salutem commissi sibi corporis curat, et illi nihil 
imperat turpe, nihil sordidum. Ubi vero inpotens, 
cupidus, delicatus est, transit in nomen detestabile ac 
dirum et fit tyrannus ; tunc ilium excipiunt adfectus 
inpotentes et instant, qui initio quidem gaudent, ut 
solet populus largitione nocitura frustra plenus, et 

-25 quae non potest haurire, contrectat. Cum vero 
magis ac magis vires morbus exedit et in medullas 
nervosque descendere deliciae, conspectu eorum, 
quibus se nimia aviditate inutilem reddidit, laetus, 
pro suis voluptatibus habet alienarum spectaculum, 
sumministrator libidinum testisque, quarum usum sibi 
ingerendo abstulit. Nee illi tam gratum est abun- 
dare iucundis quam acerbum, quod non omnem ilium 
apparatum per gulam ventremque transmittit, quod 
non cum omni exoletorum feminarumque turba con- 
volutatur, maeretque, quod magna pars suae felici- 
tatis exclusa corporis angustiis cessat. 

» Vergil, Oeorg. w. 212 f. 


If but the king be safe, your swarm will live 
Harmonious ; if he die, the bees revolt." 

The soul is our king. If it be safe, the other 
functions remain on duty and serve with obedience ; 
but the slightest lack of equilibrium in the soul 
causes them to waver along with it. And when the 
soul has yielded to pleasure, its functions and 
actions grow weak, and any undertaking comes from 
a nerveless and unsteady source^ To persist in my 
use of this simile — our soul is at one time a king, 
at another a tyrant. The king, in that he respects 
things honourable, watches over the welfare of the 
body which is entrusted to his charge, and gives that 
body no base, no ignoble commands. But an uncon- 
trolled, passionate, and effeminate soul changes king- 
ship into that most dread and detestable quality — 
tyranny ; then it becomes a prey to the uncontrolled 
emotions, which dog its steps, elated at first, to be 
sure, like a populace idly sated with a largess which 
will ultimately be its undoing, and spoiling what it 
cannot consume. But when the disease has gradually 
eaten away the strength, and luxurious habits have 
penetrated the marrow and the sinews, such a soul 
exults at the sight of limbs which, through its over- 
indulgence, it has made useless ; instead of its own 
pleasures, it views those of others ; it becomes the 
go-between and witness of the passions which, as 
the result of self-gratification, it can no longer feel. 
Abundance of delights is not so pleasing a thing to 
that soul as it is bitter, because it cannot send all the 
dainties of yore down through the over-worked throat 
and stomach, because it can no longer whirl in the 
maze of eunuchs and mistresses, and it is melancholy 
because a great part of its happiness is shut off, 
through the limitations of the body. 



26 Numquid enim, mi Lucili, in hoc furor est, quod 
nemo nostrum mortalem se cogitat, quod nemo 
inbecillum ? In illo, quod nemo nostrum unum esse 
se cogitat ! Aspice culinas nostras et concursantis 
inter tot ignes cocos ; unum videri putas ventrem, 
cxii tanto tumultu comparatur cibus ? Aspice vete- 
raria nostra et plena multorum saeculorum vindemiis 
horrea ; unum putas videri ventrem, cui tot consulum 
regionumque vina cluduntur ? Aspice, quot locis 
terra vertatur, quot millia colonorum arent, fodiant ; 
unum videri putas ventrem, cui et in Sicilia et in 

27 Africa seritur ? Sani erimus et modica concupis- 
cemus, si unusquisque se numeret, metiatur simul 
corpus, sciat, quam nee multum capere nee diu possit. 
Nihil tamen aeque tibi profuerit ad temperantiam 
omnium rerum quam frequens cogitatio brevis aevi et 
huius incerti ; quidquid facies, respice ad mortem. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Nimis anxium esse te circa verba et compositionem, 
mi Lucili, nolo ; habeo maiora, quae cures. Quaere, 
quid scribas, non quemadmodum ; et hoc ipsum, 
non ut scribas, sed ut sentias, ut ilia, quae senseris, 
magis adplices tibi et velut signes. Cuiuscumque 


Now is it not madness, Lucilius, for none of us to 
reflect that he is mortal ? Or frail ? Or again 
that he is but one individual ? Look at our kitchens, 
and the cooks, who bustle about over so many fires ; 
is it, think you, for a single belly that all this bustle 
and preparation of food takes place ? Look at the 
old brands of wine and store-houses filled with the 
vintages of many ages ; is it, think you, a single 
belly that is to receive the stored wine, sealed with 
the names of so many consuls, and gathered from so 
many vineyards ? Look, and mark in how many 
regions men plough the earth, and how many 
thousands of .farmers are tilling and digging ; is it, 
think you, for a single belly that crops are planted 
in Sicily and Africa ? We should be sensible, and 
our wants more reasonable, if each of us were to take 
stock of himself, and to measure his bodily needs 
also, and understand how little he can consume, 
and for how short a time ! But nothing will 
give you so much help toward moderation as the 
frequent thought that life is short and uncertain 
here below ; whatever you are doing, have regard 
to death. Farewell. 


I wish, my dear Lucilius, that you would not be 
too particular with regard to words and their arrange- 
ment ; I have greater matters than these to 
commend to your care. You should seek what to 
write, rather than how to write it — and even that 
not for the purpose of writing but of feeling it, that 
you may thus make what you have felt more your 
own and, as it were, set a seal on it. Whenever 



2 orationem videris soUicitam et politam, scito animum 
quoque non minus esse pusillis occupatum. Magnus 
ille remissius loquitur et securius ; quaecumque dicit, 
plus habent fiduciae quam curae. 

Nosti comptulos ^ iuvenes, barba et coma nitidos, 
de capsula totos ; nihil ab illis speraveris forte, nihil 
solidum. Oratio cultus animi est : si circumtonsa 
est et ^ fucata et manu facta, ostendit ilium quoque 
non esse sincerum et habere aliquid fracti. Non est 

3 ornamentum virile concinnitas. Si nobis animum 
boni viri liceret inspicere, o quam pulchram faciem, 
quam sanctam, quam ex magnifico piacidoque ful- 
gentem videremus, hinc iustitia, illinc fortitudine, 
hinc temperantia prudentiaque lucentibus ! Praeter 
has frugalitas et continentia et tolerantia et liberalitas 
comitasque et — quis credat ? — in homine rarum 
humanitas bonum, splendorem illi suum adfunderent. 
Tunc providentia cum elegantia et ex istis mag- 
nanimitas eminentissima quantum, di boni, decoris 
illi, quantum ponderis gravitatisque adderent ! 
Quanta esset cum gratia auctoritas ! Nemo illam 

4 amabilem, qui non simul venerabilem diceret. Si 
quis viderit hanc faciem altiorem fulgentioremque 
quam cerni inter humana consuevit, nonne velut 
numinis occursu obstupef actus resistat et, ut " fas sit 
vidisse," tacitus precetur ? Tum evocante ipsa vultus 
benignitate productus adoret ac suppHcet, et diu 

^ comptulos Buecheler ; complutos BA. 
" est et later MSS. ; esset B ; esse A^. 

" Elsewhere {Epp. Ixxvi, 2 and Ixxxvii. 9) called trossuli, 
" fops." 


you notice a style that is too careful and too polished, 
you may be sure that the mind also is no less absorbed 
in petty things. The really great man speaks in- 
formally and easily ; whatever he says, he speaks 
with assurance rather than with pains. 

You are famihar with the young dandies/ natty 
as to their beards and locks, fresh from the bandbox ; 
you can never expect from them any strength or 
any soundness. Style is the garb of thought : if it 
be trimmed, or dyed, or treated, it shows that there 
are defects and a certain amount of flaws in the 
mind. Elaborate elegance is not a manly garb. If 
we had the privilege of looking into a good man's 
soul, oh what a fair, holy, magnificent, gracious, and 
shining face should we behold — radiant on the one side 
with justice and fortitude, on another with temper- 
ance and wisdo'm ! And, besides these, thriftiness, 
moderation, endurance, refinement, affabihty, and — 
though hard to believe — love of one's fellow-men, 
that Good which is so rare in man, all these would 
be shedding their own glory over that soul. There, 
too, forethought combined with elegance and, result- 
ing from these, a most excellent greatness of soul 
(the noblest of all these virtues) — indeed what charm, 
O ye heavens, what authority and dignity would they 
contribute ! What a wonderful combination of sweet- 
ness and power ! No one could call such a face 
lovable without also calling it worshipful. If one 
might behold such a face, more exalted and more 
radiant than the mortal eye is wont to behold, 
would not one pause as if struck dumb by a visitation 
from above, and utter a silent prayer, saying : " May 
it be lawful to have looked upon it ! " ? And then, led 
on by the encouraging kindliness of his expression, 
should we not bow down and worship ? Should we 

VOL. Ill Y ^21 


contemplatus multum extantem superque mensuram 
solitorum inter nos aspici elatam, oculis mite quiddam, 
sed nihilominus vivido igne flagrantibus, tunc deinde 
illam Vergili nostri vocem verens atque attonitus 
emittat ? 

5 O quam te memorem, virgo ? Namque haut tibi vultus 
Mortalis nee vox hominem sonat. 

Sis felix, nostrumque leves quaecumque laborem. 

Aderit levabitque, si colere earn voluerimus. Colitur 
autem non taurorum opimis corporibus contrucidatis 
nee auro argentoque suspense nee in thensauros stipe 
infusa, sed pia et recta voluntate. 

6 Nemo, inquam, non amore eius arderet, si nobis 
illam videre contingeret ; nunc enim multa obstrigil- 
lant et aciem nostram aut splendore nimio repercu- 
tiunt aut obscuro ^ retinent. Sed si, quemadmodum 
visus oculorum quibusdam medicamentis acui solet 
et repurgari, sic nos aciem animi liberare inpedi- 
mentis voluerimus, poterimus perspicere virtutem 
etiam obrutam corpore, etiam paupertate opposita, 
etiam humilitate et infamia obiacentibus. Cememus, 

7 inquam, pulchritudinem illam quam vis sordido ob- 
tectam. Rursus aeque malitiam et aerumnosi animi 
veternum perspiciemus, quamvis multus circa divi- 
tiarum radiantium splendor inpediat et intuentem 

^ obscuro Muretus ; obscure BA. 

» Aen. i. 327 if. 


not, after much contemplation of a far superior 
countenance, surpassing those which we are wont to 
look upon, mild-eyed and yet flashing with life-giving 
fire — should we not then, I say, in reverence and 
awe, give utterance to those famous lines of our 
poet Vergil : 

O maiden, words are weak ! Thy face is more 
Than mortal, and thy voice rings sweeter far 

Than mortal man's ; 

Blest be thou ; and, whoe'er thou art, relieve 
Our heavy burdens." 

And such a vision will indeed be a present help and 
relief to us, if we are willing to worship it. But this 
worship does not consist in slaughtering fattened 
bulls, or in hanging up offerings of gold or silver, or 
in pouring coins into a temple treasury ; rather does 
it consist in a will that is reverent and upright. 

There is none of us, I declare to you, who would 
not burn with love for this vision of virtue, if only 
he had the privilege of beholding it ; for now there 
are many things that cut off our vision, piercing it 
with too strong a light, or clogging it with too much 
darkness. If, however, as certain drugs are wont to 
be used for sharpening and clearing the eyesight, we 
are likewise willing to free our mind's eye from 
hindrances, we shall then be able to perceive virtue, 
though it be buried in the body — even though 
poverty stand in the way, and even though lowliness 
and disgrace block the path. We shall then, I say, 
behold that true beauty, no matter if it be smothered 
by unloveliness. Conversely, we shall get a view of 
evil and the deadening influences of a sorrow-laden 
soul — in spite of the hindrance that results from the 
widespread gleam of riches that flash round about, 
and in spite of the false light — of official position 



hinc honorum, illinc magnarum potestatium falsa lux 

8 Tunc intellegere nobis licebit, quam contemnenda 
miremur, simillimi pueris, quibus omne ludicrum in 
pretio est ; parentibus quippe nee minus fratribus 
praeferunt parvo aere empta monilia.^ Quid ergo 
inter nos et illos interest, ut Ariston ait, nisi quod 
nos circa tabulas et statuas insanimus carius inepti ? 
Illos reperti in litore calculi leves et aliquid habentes 
varietatis delectant, nos ingentium maculae colum- 
narum, sive ex Aegyptiis harenis sive ^ ex Africae 
solitudinibus advectae porticum aliquam vel capacem 

9 populi cenationem ferunt. Miramur parietes tenui 
marmore inductos, cum sciamus, quale sit quod 
absconditur. Oculis nostris inponimus, et cum auro 
tecta perfudimus, quid aHud quam mendacio gau- 
demus ? Scimus enim sub illo auro foeda ligna lati- 

Nee tantum parietibus aut lacunaribus ornamentum 
tenue praetenditur ; omnium istorum, quos incedere 
altos vides, bratteata felicitas est. Inspice, et scies, 
sub ista tenui membrana dignitatis quantum maH 
10 iaceat. Haec ipsa res, quae tot magistratus, tot 
iudices detinet, quae et magistratus et iudices facit, 
pecunia, ex quo in honore esse coepit, verus rerum 
honor cecidit, mercatoresque et venales in vicem 

^ monilia Erasmus ; mobilia B ; mobiba A. 
* harenis sive later MSS. ; harent. sive BA. 

" Frag. 372 von Arnim. 


on the one side or great power on the other — which 
beats pitilessly upon the beholder. 

Then it will be in our power to understand how 
contemptible are the things we admire — like chil- 
dren who regard every toy as a thing of value, who 
cherish necklaces bought at the price of a mere 
penny as more dear than their parents or than their 
brothers. And what, then, as Aristo says," is the 
difference between ourselves and these children, 
except that we elders go crazy over paintings and 
sculpture, and that our folly costs us dearer ? Chil- 
dren are pleased by the smooth and variegated 
pebbles which they pick up on the beach, while we 
take delight in tall columns of veined marble brought 
either from Egyptian sands or from African deserts 
to hold up a colonnade or a dining-hall large enough 
to contain a city crowd ; we admire walls veneered 
with a thin layer of marble, although we know the 
while what defects the marble conceals. We cheat 
our own eyesight, and when we have overlaid our 
ceilings with gold, what else is it but a lie in which 
we take such delight ? For we know that beneath 
all this gilding there lurks some ugly wood. 

Nor is such superficial decoration spread merely 
over walls and ceilings ; nay, all the famous men 
whom you see strutting about with head in air, have 
nothing but a gold-leaf prosperity. Look beneath, 
and you will know how much evil lies under that 
thin coating of titles. Note that very commodity 
which holds the attention of so many magistrates 
and so many judges, and which creates both magis- 
trates and judges — that money, I say, which ever 
since it began to be regarded, with respect, has 
caused the ruin of the true honour of things ; we 
become alternately merchants and merchandise, and 



facti quaerimus non quale sit quidque, sed quanti ; 
ad mercedem pii sumus, ad mercedem impii, et 
honesta, quamdiu aliqua illis spes inest, sequimur, 
in contrarium transituri, si plus scelera promittent. 

11 Admirationem nobis parentes auri argentique fece- 
runt, et teneris infusa cupiditas altius sedit crevitque 
nobiscum. Deinde totus populus in alia discors in 
hoc convenit ; hoc suspiciunt, hoc suis optant, hoc 
dis velut rerum humanarum maximum, cum grati 
videri volunt, consecrant. Denique eo mores redacti 
sunt, ut paupertas maledicto probroque sit, con- 
tempta divitibus, invisa pauperibus. 

12 Accedunt deinde carmina poetarum, quae adfec- 
tibus nostris facem subdant, quibus divitiae velut 
unicum vitae decus ornamentumque laudantur. Nihil 
illis melius nee dare videntur di immortales posse 
nee habere. 

13 Regia Solis erat sublimibus alta columnis 
Clara micante auro. 

Eiusdem currum aspice : 

Aureus axis erat, temo aureus, aurea summae 
Curvatura rotae, radiorum argenteus ordo. 

Denique quod optimum videri volunt saeculum, 

14 aureum appellant. Nee apud Graecos tragicos 
desunt, qui lucre innocentiam, salutem, opinionem 
bonam mutent. 

« Ovid, Metam. ii. 1 f. * Id. ib. ii. 107 fF. 



we ask, not what a thing truly is, but what it costs ; 
we fulfil duties if it pays, or neglect them if it pays, 
and we follow an honourable course as long as it 
encourages our expectations, ready to veer across to 
the opposite course if crooked conduct shall promise 
more. Our parents have instilled into us a respect 
for gold and silver ; in our early years the craving 
has been implanted, settling deep within us and grow- 
ing with our growth. Then too the whole nation, 
though at odds on every other subject, agrees upon 
this ; this is what they regard, this is what they ask 
for their children, this is what they dedicate to the 
gods when they wish to show their gratitude — 
as if it were the greatest of all man's possessions ! 
And finally, public opinion has come to such a pass 
that poverty is a hissing and a reproach, despised by 
the rich and loathed by the poor. 

Verses of poets also are added to the account — 
verses which lend fuel to our passions, verses in 
which wealth is praised as if it were the only credit 
and glory of mortal man. People seem to think that 
the immortal gods cannot give any better gift than 
wealth — or even possess anything better : 

The Sun-god's palace, set with pillars tall, 
And flashing bright with gold." 

Or they describe the chariot of the Sun^ : 

Gold was the axle, golden^eke the pole. 

And gold the tires that bound the circling wheels, 

And silver all the spokes within the wheels. 

And finally, when they would praise an epoch as 
the best, they call it the " Golden Age." Even 
among the Greek tragic poets there are some who 
regard pelf as better than purity, soundness, or good 
report : 



Sine me vocari pessimum, ut ^ dives vocer. 

An dives, omnes quaerimus, nemo, an bonus. 

Non quare et unde, quid habeas, tantum rogant. 

Ubique tanti quisque, quantum habuit, fuit. 

Quid habere nobis turpe sit quaeris ? Nihil. 

Aut dives opto vivere aut pauper mori. 

Bene moritur, quisquis moritur dum lucrum facit. 

Pecunia, ingens generis humani bonum, 

Cui non voluptas matris aut blandae potest 

Par esse prolis, non sacer meritis parens ; 

Tarn dulce si quid Veneris in vultu micat, 

Merito ilia amores caelitum atque hominum movet. 

15 Cum hi novissimi versus in tragoedia Euripidis 
pronuntiati essent, totus populus ad eiciendum et 
actorem et carmen consurrexit uno impetu, donee 
Euripides in medium ipse prosilivit petens, ut ex- 
pectarent ^ viderentque, quem admirator auri exitum 
faceret. Dabat in ilia fabula poenas Bellerophontes, 

16 quas in sua quisque dat. Nulla enim avaritia sine 
poena est, quamvis satis sit ipsa poenarum. O quan- 
tum lacrimarum, quantum laborum exigit ! Quam 
misera desiderat esse, quam misera e partis est ! 
Adice cotidianas sollicitudines, quae pro modo haben- 
di quemque discruciant. Maiore tormento pecunia 
possidetur quam quaeritur. Quantum damnis in- 

^ ut Hense ; simul ut MSS. 
* exspectarent Muretus ; spectarent BA. 

<• C/. Nauck, Trag. Qr.fragg. adesp. 181. 1 and 461. 
* (jf. id., Eurip. Danae, Frag. 324, and Hense's note (ed. 
of 1914, p. 559). 



Call me a scoundrel, only call me rich ! 

All ask how great my riches are, but none 
Whether my soul is good. 

None asks the means or source of your estate, 

But merely how it totals. 

All men are worth as much as what they own. 

What is most shameful for us to possess ? 
Nothing ! 

If riches bless me, I should love to live ; 
Yet I would rather die, if poor. 

A man dies nobly in pursuit of wealth." 

Money, that blessing to the race of man. 
Cannot be matched by mother's love, or lisp 
Of children, or the honour due one's sire. 
And if the sweetness of the lover's glance 
Be half so charming, Love will rightly stir 
The hearts of gods and men to adoration.* 

When these last-quoted Hnes were spoken at a per- 
formance of one of the tragedies of Euripides, the 
whole audience rose with one accord to hiss the actor 
and the play off the stage. But Euripides jumped to 
his feet, claimed a hearing, and asked them to wait for 
the conclusion and see the destiny that was in store 
for this man who gaped after gold. Bellerophon, in 
that particular drama, was to pay the penalty which 
is exacted of all men in the drama of hfe. For one 
must pay the penalty for all greedy acts ; although 
the greed is enough of a penalty in itself. What 
tears and toil does money wring from us ! Greed is 
wretched in that which it craves and wretched in 
that which it wins ! Think besides of the daily 
worry which afflicts every possessor in proportion to 
the measure of his gain ! The possession of riches 
means even greater agony of spirit than the acquisi- 
tion of riches. And how we sorrow over our losses — 



gemescunt, quae et magna incidunt et videntur 
maiora ! Denique ut illis fortuna nihil detrahat, 
quidquid non adquiritur, damnum est. 

17 " At felicem ilium homines et divitem vocant et 
consequi optant, quantum ille possidet." Fateor. 
Quid ergo ? Tu uUos esse condicionis peioris exis- 
timas quam qui habent et miseriam et invidiam ? 
Utinam qui divitias optaturi essent, cum divitibus 
deliberarent ! Utinam honores petituri cum am- 
bitiosis et summum adeptis dignitatis statum ! Pro- 
fecto vota mutassent, cum interim illi nova susci- 
piunt/ cum priora damnaverint. Nemo enim est, 
cui felicitas sua, etiam si cursu venit, satis faciat. 
Queruntur et de consiliis et de processibus suis 
maluntque semper quae reliquerunt. 

18 Itaque hoc tibi philosophia praestabit, quo equidem 
nihil maius existimo : numquam te paenitebit tui. 
Ad banc tam solidam felicitatem, quam tempestas 
nulla concutiat, non perducent te apte verba contexta 
et oratio fluens leniter. Eant, ut volent, dum animo 
compositio sua constet, dum sit magnus et opinionum 
securus et ob ipsa, quae aliis displicent, sibi placens, 
qui profectum suum vita aestimet et tantum scire se 
iudicet, quantum non cupit quantum non timet. 

^ suscipiunt codd., Gruter ; suspiciunt BA. 

" A play on the compositio of rhetoric. 


losses which fall heavily upon us, and yet seem still 
more heavy ! And finally, though Fortune may 
leave our property intact, whatever we cannot gain 
in addition, is sheer loss ! 

"But," you will say to me, " people call yonder 
man happy and rich ; they pray that some day they 
may equal him in possessions." Very true. What, 
then ? Do you think that there is any more pitiable 
lot in life than to possess misery and hatred also ? 
Would that those who are bound to crave wealth 
could compare notes with the rich man ! Would that 
those who are bound to seek political office could 
confer with ambitious nien who have reached the most 
sought-after honours ! They would then surely alter 
their prayers, seeing that these grandees are always 
gaping after new gain, condemning what is already 
behind them. For there is no one in the world who 
is contented with his prosperity, even if it comes to 
him on the run. Men complain about their plans 
and the outcome of their plans ; they always prefer 
what they have failed to win. 

So philosophy can settle this problem for you, and 
afford you, to my mind, the greatest boon that 
exists — absence of regret for your own conduct. 
This is a sure happiness ; no storm can ruffle it ; but 
you cannot be steered safely through by any subtly 
woven words, or any gently flowing language. Let 
words proceed as they please, provided only your soul 
keeps its own sure order," provided your soul is great 
and holds unruffled to its ideals, pleased with itself 
on account of the very things which displease others, 
a soul that makes life the test of its progress, 
and believes that its knowledge is in exact pro- 
portion to its freedom from desire and its freedom 
from fear. Farewell. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Utrum satius sit modicos habere adfectus an nuUos, 
saepe quaesitum est. Nostri illos expellunt, Peri- 
patetic! temperant. Ego non video, quomodo salu- 
bris esse aut utilis possit ulla mediocritas morbi. 
Noli timere ; nihil eorum, quae tibi non vis negari, 
eripio. Facilem me indulgentemque praebebo rebus, 
ad quas tendis et quas aut necessarias vitae aut utiles 
aut iucundas putas ; detrah^m vitium. Nam cum 
tibi cupere interdixero, velle permittam, ut eadem 
ilia intrepidus facias, ut certiore consiUo, ut voluptates 
ipsas magis sentias ; quidni ad te magis perventurae 
sint, si illis imperabis, quam si servies ? 

2 " Sed naturale est," inquis, " ut desiderio amici 
torquear ; da ius ^ lacrimis tarn iuste cadentibus. 
Naturale est opinionibus hominum tangi et adversis 
contristari ; quare mihi non permittas hunc tam 
honestum malae opinionis metum ? " 

Nullum est vitium sine patrocinio ; nulli non 
initium verecundum est et exorabile, sed ab hoc 
latius funditur. Non obtinebis, ut desinat, si incipere 

3 permiseris. Inbecillus est primo omnis adfectus. 
Deinde ipse se concitat et vires, dum procedit, parat ; 
excluditur facilius quam expellitur. Quis negat 

^ da ius Lipsius ; dcUus BA. 

" For a discussion of dirddeia see Epp. ix. 2 flF. and 
Ixxxv. 3 ff. 




The question has often been raised whether it is 
better to have moderate emotions, or none at all." 
Philosophers of our school reject the emotions ; the 
Peripatetics keep them in check. I, however, do not 
understand how any half-way disease can be either 
wholesome or helpful. Do not fear; I am not robbing 
you of any privileges which you are unwilling to lose ! 
I shall be kindly and indulgent towards the objects 
for which you strive — those which you hold to be 
necessary to our existence, or useful, or pleasant ; I 
shall simply strip away the vice. For after I have 
issued my prohibition against the desires, I shall still 
allow you to wish that you may do the same things 
fearlessly and with greater accuracy of judgment, and 
to feel even the pleasures more than before ; and how 
can these pleasures help coming more readily to your 
call, if you are their lord rather than their slave ! 

" But," you object, " it is natural for me to suffer 
when I am bereaved of a friend ; grant some privi- 
leges to tears which have the right to flow ! It is 
also natural to be affected by men's opinions and to 
be cast down when they are unfavourable ; so why 
should you not allow me such an honourable aversion 
to bad opinion ? " 

There is no vice which lacks some plea ; there is 
no vice that at the start is not modest and easily 
entreated ; but afterwards the trouble spreads more 
widely. If you allow it to begin, you cannot make 
sure of its ceasing. Every emotion at the start is 
weak. Afterwards, it rouses itself and gains strength 
by progress ; it is more easy to forestall it than to 
forgo it. Who does not admit that all the emotions 



omnis adfectus a quodam quasi natural! fluere 
principio ? Guram nobis nostri natura mandavit, sed 
huic ubi nimium indulseris, vitium est. Voluptatem 
natura necessariis rebus admiscuit, non ut illam pete- 
remus, sed ut ea, sine quibus non possumus vivere, 
grata ^ nobis illius faceret accessio ; sue veniat iure, 
luxuria est. 

Ergo intrantibus resistamus, quia facilius, ut dixi, 
non recipiuntur quam exeunt. " Aliquatenus," in- 

4 quis, " dolere, aliquatenus timere permitte " ; sed 
illud " aliquatenus " longe producitur nee ubi vis, 
accipit finem. Sapienti non sollicite custodire se 
tutum est, et lacrimas suas et voluptates ubi volet 
sistet ; nobis quia non est regredi facile, optimum 

5 est omnino non progredi. Eleganter mihi videtur 

Panaetius respondisse adulescentulo cuidam quae- 

renti, an sapiens amaturus esset. " De sapiente," 

inquit, " videbimus ; mihi et tibi, qui adhuc a 

sapiente longe absumus, non est committendum, ut 

incidamus in rem commotam, inpotentem, alteri 

emancupatam, vilem sibi. Sive enim non respuit,^ 

humanitate eius inritamur, sive contempsit, superbia 

accendimur. Aeque facilitas amoris quam difficultas 

nocet ; facilitate capimur, cum difficultate cer- 

tamus. Itaque conscii nobis inbecillitatis nostrfte 

quiescamus. Nee vino infirmum animum com- 

^ grata Windhaus and cod. Velz. ; gratia or gratiora MSS. 
^ respuit Buecheler ; respicit BA. 

" Frag. 56 Fowler. 

* Literally, " out of our possession " (from maneipium, 
" ownership "). 



flow as it were from a certain natural source ? We 
are endowed by Nature with an interest in our 
own well-being ; but this very interest, when over- 
indulged, becomes a vice. Nature has intermingled 
pleasure with necessary things — not in order that we 
should seek pleasure, but in order that the addition 
of pleasure may make the indispensable means of 
existence attractive to our eyes. Should it claim 
rights of its own, it is luxury. 

Let us therefore resist these faults when they are 
demanding entrance, because, as I have said, it is 
easier to deny them admittance than to make them 
depart. And if you cry : " One should be allowed 
a certain amount of grieving, and a certain amount 
of fear," I reply that the " certain amount " can be 
too long-drawn-out, and that it will refuse to stop 
short when you so desire. The wise man can safely 
control himself without becoming over-anxious ; he 
can halt his tears and his pleasures at will ; but in 
our case, because it is not easy to retrace our steps, 
it is best not to push ahead at all. I think that 
Panaetius <* gave a very neat answer to a certain 
youth who asked him whether the wise man should 
become a lover : " As to the wise man, we shall see 
later ; but you and I, who are as yet far removed 
from wisdom, should not trust ourselves to fall into 
a state that is disordered, uncontrolled, enslaved to 
another,^ contemptible to itself. If our love be not 
spurned, we are excited by its kindness ; if it be 
scorned, we are kindled by our pride. An easily- 
won love hurts us as much as one which is difficult 
to win ; we are captured by that which is compliant, 
and we struggle with that which is hard. There- 
fore, knowing our weakness, let us remain quiet. 
Let us not expose this unstable spirit to the tempta- 



mittamus nee formae nee adulationi nee ullis rebus 
blande trahentibus." 

6 Quod Panaetius de amore quaerenti respondit, hoc 
ego de omnibus adfectibus dico. Quantum possu- 
mus, nos a lubrico recedamus ; in sicco quoque 

7 parum fortiter stamus. Occurres hoc loco mihi ilia 
publica contra Stoicos voce : " Nimis magna promit- 
titis, nimis dura praecipitis. Nos homunciones 
sumus, omnia nobis negare non possumus. Dolebi- 
mus, sed parum ; concupiscemus, sed temperate ; 
irascemur, sed placabimur," Scis, quare non possu- 

8 mus ista ? Quia nos posse non credimus. Iramo 
mehercules aliud est in re : vitia nostra quia amamus, 
defendimus et malumus excusare ilia quam excutere. 
Satis natura homini dedit roboris, si illo utamur, si 
vires nostras colligamus ac totas pro nobis, certe non 
contra nos concitemus. Nolle in causa est, non posse 
praetenditur. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Multum mihi negotii concinnabis et, dum nescis, 
in magnam me litem ac molestiam inpinges, qui mihi 
tales quaestiunculas ponis, in quibus ego nee dissen- 


tions of drink, or beauty, or flattery, or anything 
that coaxes and allures." 

Now that which Panaetius replied to the question 
about love may be applied, I believe, to all the 
emotions. In so far as we are able, let us step back 
from slippery places ; even on dry ground it is hard 
enough to take a sturdy stand. At this point, I 
know, you will confront me with that common com- 
plaint against the Stoics : " Your promises are too 
great, and your counsels too hard. We are mere 
manikins, unable to deny ourselves everything. We 
shall sorrow, but not to any great extent ; we shall 
feel desires, but in moderation ; we shall give way 
to anger, but we shall be appeased." And do you 
know why we have not the power to attain this 
Stoic ideal ? It is because we refuse to believe in 
our power. Nay, of a surety, there is something 
else which plays a part : it is because we are in love 
with our vices ; we uphold them and prefer to make 
excuses for them rather than shake them off. We 
mortals have been endowed with sufficient strength by 
nature, if only we use this strength, if only we con- 
centrate our powers and rouse them all to help us 
or at least not to hinder us. The real reason for 
failure is unwillingness, the pretended reason, in- 
ability. Farewell. 


You will be fabricating much trouble for me, and 
you will be unconsciously embroiling me in a great 
discussion, and in considerable bother, if you put 
such petty questions as these ; for in settling them 
I cannot disagree with my fellow-Stoics without 

VOL, Tii z 337 


tire a nostris salva gratia nee consentire salva con- 
scientia possum. Quaeris, an verum sit, quod Stoicis 
placet, sapientiam bonum esse, sapere bonum non 
esse. Primum exponam, quid Stoicis videatur ; 
deinde tunc dicere sententiam audebo. 

2 Placet nostris, quod bonum est, corpus esse, quia 
quod bonum est, facit ; quidquid facit, corpus est. 
Quod bonum est, prodest. Faciat autem aliquid 
oportet, ut prosit ; si facit, corpus est. Sapientiam 
bonum esse dicunt ; sequitur, ut necesse sit illam 

3 corporalem quoque dicere. At sapere non putant 
eiusdem condicionis esse. Incorporate est et accidens 
alteri, id est sapientiae ; itaque nee facit quidquam 
nee prodest. 

" Quid ergo ? " inquit, " non dicimus, bonum est 
sapere ? " Dicimus referentes ad id, ex quo pendet, 

4 id est ad ipsam sapientiam. Adversus hos quid ab 
aliis respondeatur, audi, antequam ego incipio se- 
cedere et in alia parte considere. " Isto modo," in- 
quiunt, " nee beate vivere bonum est. Velint nolint, 
respondendum est beatam vitam bonum esse, beate 

5 vivere bonum non esse." Etiamnunc nostris illud 
quoque opponitur : " Vultis sapere. Ergo expetenda 
res est sapere. Si expetenda res est, bona est." 
Coguntur nostri verba torquere et unam syllabam 
expetendo interponere, quam sermo noster inseri non 

" For this sort of discussion see Ep. cxiii. 1 fF. 


impairing my standing among them, nor can I sub- 
scribe to such ideas without impairing my conscience. 
Your query is, whether the Stoic belief is true : 
that wisdom is a Good, but that being wise' is not a 
Good." I shall first set forth the Stoic view, and 
then I shall be bold enough to deliver my own 

We of the Stoic school believe that the Good is 
corporeal, because the Good is active, and whatever 
is actiye is corporeal. That which is good, is helpful. 
But, in order to be helpful, it must be active ; so, if 
it is active, it is corporeal. They (the Stoics) declare 
that wisdom is a Good ; it therefore follows that one 
must also call wisdom corporeal. But they do not 
think that being wise can be rated on the same basis. 
For it is incorporeal and accessory to something 
else, in other words, wisdom ; hence it is in no 
respect active or helpful. 

" What, then ? " is the reply ; " Why do we not say 
that being wise is a Good ? " We do say so ; but only 
by referring it to that on which it depends — in 
other words, wisdom itself. Let me tell you what 
answers other philosophers make to these objectors, 
before I myself begin to form my own creed and to 
take my place entirely on another side. " Judged 
in that light," they say, " not even living happily is a 
Good. Willy nilly, such persons ought to reply that 
the happy life is a Good, but that living happily is not 
a Good." And this objection is also raised against 
our school : " You wish to be wise. Therefore, 
being wise is a thing to be desired. And if it be a 
thing to be desired, it is a Good." So our philo- 
sophers are forced to twist their words and insert 
another syllable into the word " desired," — a syllable 
which our language does not normally allow to be 



sinit. Ego illam, si pateris, adiungam. " Expeten- 
dum est," inquiunt, " quod bonum est : expetibile, 
quod nobis contingit, cum bonum consecuti sumus. 
Non petitur tamquam bonum, sed petito bono acce- 

6 Ego non idem sentio et nostros iudico in hoc de- 
scendere, quia iam primo vinculo tenentur et mutare 
illis formulam non licet. Multum dare solemus 
praesumptioni omnium hominum, et apud nos veri- 
tatis argumentum est aliquid omnibus videri. Tam- 
quam deos esse inter alia hoc colligimus, quod 
omnibus insita de dis opinio est nee ulla gens usquam 
est adeo extra leges moresque proiecta, ut non 
aliquos deos credat. Cum de animarum aeternitate 
disserimus, non leve momentum apud nos habet 
consensus hominum aut timentium inferos aut colen- 
tium. Utor hac publica persuasione : neminem in- 
venies, qui non putet et sapientiam bonum et sapere.^ 

7 Non faciam, quod victi solent, ut provocem ad 
populum ; nostris incipiamus armis confligere. 

Quod accidit alicui, utrum extra id, cui accidit, est 

an in eo, cui accidit ? Si in eo est, cui accidit, tam 

corpus est quam illud, cui accidit. Nihil enim acci- 

dere sine tactu potest ; quod tangit, corpus est. Si 

extra est, posteaquam acciderat, recessit. Quod 

recessit, motum habet. Quod motum habet, corpus 

^ et sapientiam bonum et sapere ed. Mentel. ; et s. et h. s. 
B ; et s. b. 8. A i et s. b. et s. bonum later MSS. 

" This adjective expetibilis is found in Tacitus, Ann. 
xvi, 21, and in Boethius, Cons. ii. 6. 

* i.e., the Stoics as mentioned above (with whom Seneca 
often disagrees on minor details). 



inserted. But, with your permission, I shall add it. 
" That which is good," they say, " is a thing to be 
desired ; the desirable " thing is that which falls to 
our lot after we have attained the Good. For the 
desirable is not sought as a Good ; it is an accessory 
to the Good after the Good has been attained." 

I myself do not hold the same view, and I judge that 
our philosophers ^ have come down to this argument 
because they are already bound by the first link in 
the chain and for that reason may not alter their 
definition. People are wont to concede much to the 
things which all men take for granted ; in our eyes 
the fact that all men agree upon something is a proof 
of its truth. For instance, we infer that the gods 
exist, for this reason, among others — that there is 
implanted in everyone an idea concerning deity, and 
there is no people so far beyond the reach of laws 
and customs that it does not believe at least in gods 
of some sort. And when we discuss the immortality 
of the soul, we are influenced in no small degree by 
the general opinion of mankind, who either fear or 
worship the spirits of the lower world. I make the 
most of this general belief : you can find no one who 
does not hold that wisdom is a Good, and being wise 
also. I shall not appeal to the populace, like a 
conquered gladiator ; let us come to close quarters, 
using our own weapons. 

When something affects a given object, is it outside 
the object which it affects, or is it inside the object 
it affects ? If the object it affects is inside, it is 
as corporeal as the object which it affects. For 
nothing can affect another object without touching it, 
and that which touches is corporeal. If it is outside, 
it withdraws after having affected the object. And 
withdrawal means motion. And that which possesses 



est. Speras me dicturum non esse aliud cursum, 

8 aliud currere, nee aliud calorem, aliud calere, nee 
aliud lucem, aliud lucere ; concedo ista alia esse, sed- 
non sortis alterius. Si valetudo indiiFerens est, et 
valere indifFerens est ^ ; si forma indiiFerens est, et 
formonsum esse. Si iustitia bonum est, et iustum 
esse. Si turpitudo malum est, et turpem esse malum 
est, tam mehercules quam, si lippitudo malum est, 
lippire quoque malum est. Hoc ut scias, neutrum 
esse sine altero potest. Qui sapit, sapiens est ; qui 
sapiens est, sapit. Adeo non potest dubitari, an 
quale illud sit, tale hoc sit, ut quibusdam utrumque 
unum videatur atque idem. 

9 Sed illud libenter quaesierim : cum omnia aut mala 
sint aut bona aut indifFerentia, sapere in quo numero 
sit ? Bonum negant esse, malum utique non est ; 
sequitur ut medium sit. Id autem medium atque 
indifFerens vocamus, quod tam malo contingere quam 
bono possit, tamquam pecunia, forma, nobilitas. Hoc, 
ut sapiat, contingere nisi bono non potest ; ergo 
indifFerens non est. Atqui ne malum quidem est, 
quod contingere malo non potest ; ergo bonum est. 
Quod nisi bonus non habet, bonum est. Sapere non 

10 nisi bonus habet ; ergo bonum est. " Accidens est," 
inquit, " sapientiae." Hoc ergo, quod vocas sapere, 

^ et valere indifferens est add. Erasmus ; bene valere 
indifferens est later MSS. 

» i.e., the external things ; see Ep. xciii. 7 and note, — 
defined more specifically in § 9 below. 


motion, is corporeal. You expect me, I suppose, to 
deny that " race " differs from " running," that 
" heat " differs from " being hot," that " light " differs 
from " giving light." I grant that these pairs vary, 
but hold that they are not in separate classes. If 
good health is an indifferent ** quality, then so is being 
in good health ; if beauty is an indifferent quality, then 
so is being beautiful. If justice is a Good, then so is 
being Just. And if baseness is an evil, then it is an 
evil to be base — just as much as, if sore eyes are 
an evil, the state of having sore eyes is also an evil. 
Neither quality, you may be sure, can exist without 
the other. He who is wise is a man of wisdom ; he 
who is a man of wisdom is wise. So true it is that 
we cannot doubt the quality of the one to equal the 
quality of the other, that they are both regarded by 
certain persons as one and the same. 

Here is a question, however, which I should be 
glad to put : granted that all things are either good 
or bad or indifferent — in what class does being wise 
belong ? People deny that it is a Good ; and, as it 
obviously is not an evil, it must consequently be one 
of the " media." But we mean by the " medium," 
or the " indifferent " quality that which can fall to 
the lot of the bad no less than to the good — such 
things as money, beauty, or high social position. 
But the quality of being wise can fall to the lot of the 
good man alone ; therefore being wise is not an 
indifferent quality. Nor is it an evil, either ; because 
it cannot fall to the lot of the bad man ; therefore, 
it is a Good. That which the good man alone can 
possess, is a Good ; now being wise is the possession 
of the good man only ; therefore it is a Good. The 
objector replies : " It is only an accessory of wisdom." 
Very well, then, I say, this quahty which you call 



utrum facit sapientiam an patitur ? Utroque modo 
corpus est. Nam et quod fit et quod facit, corpus 
est ; si corpus est, bonum est. Unum enim illi de- 
erat, quominus bonum esset, quod incorporale erat. 

11 Peripateticis placet nihil interesse inter sapientiam 
et sapere, cu in utrolibet eorum et alterum sit. 
Numquid enim quemquam existimas sapere nisi qui 
sapientiam habet ? Numquid quemquam, qui sapit, 

12 non putas habere sapientiam ? Dialectici ve teres ista 
distinguunt ; ab illis divisio usque ad Stoicos venit. 
Qualis sit haec, dicam. AUud est ager, aliud agrum 
habere, quidni ? Cum habere agrum ad habentem, 
non ad agrum pertineat. Sic aUud est sapientia, 
ahud sapere. Puto concedes duo esse haec, id, quod 
habetur, et eum, qui habet ; habetur sapientia, habet 
qui sapit. Sapientia est mens perfecta vel ad sum- 
mum optimumque perducta. Ars enim vitae est. 
Sapere quid est } Non possum dicere " mens per- 
fecta," sed id quod contingit perfectam mentem 
habenti ; ita alterum est mens bona, alterum quasi 
habere mentem bonam. 

13 " Sunt," inquit, " naturae corporum, tamquam hie 

homo est, hie equus. Has deinde sequuntur motus 

animorum enuntiativi corporum. Hi habent pro- 


being wise — does it actively produce wisdom, or is it 
a passive concomitant of wisdom ? It is corporeal in 
either case. For that which is acted upon and that 
which acts, are alike corporeal ; and, if corporeal, 
each is a Good. The only quality which could pre- 
vent it from being a Good, would be incorporeahty. 

The Peripatetics beheve that there is no distinction 
between wisdom and being wise, since either of these 
implies the other also. Now do you suppose that 
any man can be wise except one who possesses wis- 
dom ? Or that anyone who is wise does not possess 
wisdom ? The old masters of dialectic, however, 
distinguish between these two conceptions ; and 
from them the classification has come right down to 
the Stoics. What sort of a classification this is, I 
shall explain : A field is one thing, and the possession 
of the field another thing ; of course, because 
" possessing the field " refers to the possessor rather 
than to the field itself. Similarly, wisdom is one 
thing and being wise another. You will grant, I 
suppose, that these two are separate ideas — the 
possessed and the possessor : wisdom being that 
which one possesses, and he who is wise its possessor. 
Now wisdom is Mind perfected and developed to the 
highest and best degree. For it is the art of life. 
And what is being wise ? I cannot call it " Mind 
Perfected," but rather that which falls to the lot of 
him who possesses a " mind perfected " ; thus a 
good mind is one thing, and the so-called possession 
of a good mind another. 

" There are," it is said, " certain natural classes of 
bodies ; we say : ' This is a man,' ' this is a horse.' 
Then there attend on the bodily natures certain move- 
ments of the mind which declare something about 
the body. And these have a certain essential quality 



prium quiddam et a corporibus seductum, tamquam 
video Catonem ambulantem. Hoc sensus ostendit, 
animus credidit. Corpus est, quod video, cui et 
oculos intendi et animum. Dico deinde : Cato am- 
bulat. Non corpus," inquit, " est, quod nunc loquor, 
sed enuntiativum quiddam de corpore, quod alii 
efFatum vocant, alii enuntiatum, alii dictum. Sic cum 
dicimus sapientiam, corporale quiddam intellegimus ; 
cum dicimus " sapit," de corpore loquimur. Pluri- 
mum autem interest, utrum ilium dicas an de illo." 

14 Putemus in praesentia ista duo esse, — nondum 
enim, quid mihi videatur, pronuntio, — quid prohibet, 
quominus aliud quidem sit,^ sed nihilominus bonum ? 
Dicebam ^ paulo ante aliud esse agrum, aliud habere 
agrum. Quidni ? In alia enim natura est qui habet, 
in alia quod habetur. Ilia terra est, hie homo est. 
At in hoc, de quo agitur, eiusdem naturae sunt 

15 utraque, et qui habet sapientiam, et ipsa. Praeterea 
illic aliud est, quod habetur, alius, qui habet ; hie in 
eodem est et quod habetur et qui habet. Ager iure 
possidetur, sapientia natura. lUe abalienari potest 
et alteri tradi, haec non discedit a domino. Non est 
itaque quod compares inter se dissimilia. 

Coeperam dicere posse ista duo esse et tamen 
utraque bona, tamquam sapientia et sapiens duo 

^ sit om. BA. 
* dicebam Hermes ; dicehas BA. 



which is sundered from body ; for example : ' I see 
Cato walking.' The senses indicate this, and the 
mind believes it. What I see, is body, and upon 
this I concentrate my eyes and my mind. Again, I 
say : ' Cato walks.' What I say," they continue, " is 
not body ; it is a certain declarative fact concern- 
ing body — called variously an ' utterance,' a ' declara- 
tion,' a ' statement.' Thus, when we say ' wisdom,' 
we mean something pertaining to body ; when we say 
' he is wise,' we are speaking concerning body. And it 
makes considerable difference whether you mention 
the person directly, or speak concerning the person." 

Supposing for the present that these are two 
separate conceptions (for I am not yet prepared 
to give my own opinion) ; what prevents the 
existence of still a third — -which is none the less a 
Good ? I remarked a little while ago that a " field " 
was one thing, and the " possession of a field " 
another ; of course, for possessor and possessed are 
of different natures ; the latter is the land, and the 
former is the man who owns the land. But with 
regard to the point now under discussion, both are 
of the same nature — the possessor of wisdom, and 
wisdom itself. Besides, in the one case that which 
is possessed is one thing, and he who possesses it is 
another ; but in this case the possessed and the 
possessor come under the same category. The field 
is owned by virtue of law, wisdom by virtue of nature. 
The field can change hands and go into the ownership 
of another ; but wisdom never departs from its owner. 
Accordingly, there is no reason why you should try 
to compare things that are so unlike one another. 

I had started to say that these can be two 
separate conceptions, and yet that both can be 
Goods — for instance, wisdom and the wise man being 



sunt et utrumque bonum esse coneedis. Quomodo 
nihil obstat, quominus et sapientia bonum sit et 
habens sapientiam, sic nihil obstat, quominus et 
sapientia bonum sit et habere sapientiam, id est 

16 sapere. Ego in hoc volo sapiens esse, ut sapiam. 
Quid ergo ? Non est id bonum, sine quo nee illud 
bonum est ? Vos certe dicitis sapientiam, si sine usu 
detur, accipiendam non esse. Quid est usus sapien- 
tiae ? Sapere ; hoc est in ilia pretiosissimum, quo 
detracto supervacua fit. Si tormenta mala sunt, 
torqueri malum est, adeo quidem, ut ilia non sint 
mala, si quod sequitur detraxeris. Sapientia habitus 
perfectae mentis est, sapere usus perfectae mentis. 
Quomodo potest usus eius bonum non esse, quae 

17 sine usu bonum non ^ est ? Interrogo te, an sapientia 
expetenda sit ; fateris. Interrogo, an usus sa- 
pientiae expetendus sit ; fateris ; negas enim te 
illam recepturum, si uti ea prohibearis. Quod ex- 
petendum est, bonum est. Sapere sapientiae usus 
est, quomodo eloquentiae eloqui, quomodo oculorum 
videre. Ergo sapere sapientiae usus est, usus autem 
sapientiae expetendus est ; sapere ergo expetendum 
est. Si expetendum est, bonum est. 

18 Olim ipse me damno, qui illos imitor, dum accuse, 

^ non later MSS. ; om. BA. 


two separate things and yet granted by you to be 
equally good. And just as there is no objection to 
regarding both wisdom and the possessor of wisdom 
as Goods, so there is no objection to regarding as 
a good both wisdom and the possession of wisdom, 
— in other words, being wise. For I only wish to be 
a wise man in order to he wise. And what then ? 
Is not that thing a Good without the possession of 
which a certain other thing cannot be a Good ? 
You surely admit that wisdom, if given without the 
right to be used, is not to be welcomed ! And 
wherein consists the use of wisdom ? In being wise ; 
that is its most valuable attribute ; if you withdraw 
this, wisdom becomes superfluous. If processes of 
torture are evil, then being tortured is an evil — 
with this reservation, indeed, that if you take away 
the consequences, the former are not evil. Wisdom 
is a condition of " mind perfected," and being 
wise is the employment of this " mind perfected." 
How can the employment of that thing not be a 
Good, which without employment is not a Good ? 
If I ask you whether wisdom is to be desired, you 
admit that it is. If I ask you whether the employ- 
ment of wisdom is to be desired, you also admit the 
fact ; for you say that you will not receive wisdom 
if you are not allowed to employ it. Now that 
which is to be desired is a Good. Being wise is the 
employment of wisdom, just as it is of eloquence 
to make a speech, or of the eyes to see things. 
Therefore, being wise is the employment of wisdom, 
and the employment of wisdom is to be desired. 
Therefore being wise is a thing to be desired ; and 
if it is a thing to be desired, it is a Good. 

Lo, these many years I have been condemning 
myself for imitating these men at the very time 



et verba apertae rei impendo. Cui enim dubium 
potest esse, quin si aestus malum est, et aestuare 
malum sit ? Si algor malum est, malum sit algere ? 
Si vita bonum est, et vivere bonum sit ? Omnia ista 
circa sapientiam, non in ipsa sunt. At nobis in ipsa 

19 commorandum est. Etiam si quid evagari libet, 
amplos habet ilia spatiososque ^ secessus : de deorum 
natura quaeramus, de siderum alimento, de his tam 
variis stellarum discursibus, an ad illarum motus 
nostra moveantur, an ^ corporibus omnium animisque 
illinc impetus veniat, an et haec, quae fortuita 
dicuntur, certa lege constricta sint nihilque in hoc 
mundo repentinum aut expers ordinis volutetur. Ista 
iam a formatione morum recesserunt, sed levant 
animum et ad ipsarum, quas tractat, rerum magni- 
tudinem attollunt ; haec vero, de quibus paulo ante 
dicebam, minuunt et deprimunt nee, ut putatis, 

20 exacuunt, sed extenuant. Obsecro vos, tam neces- 
sariam curam maioribus melioribusque debitam in re 
nescio an falsa, certe inutili terimus ? Quid mihi 
profuturum est scire, an aliud sit sapientia, aliud 
sapere ? Quid mihi profuturum est scire illud bonum 
esse, hoc non esse ^ ? Temere me geram, subibo * 
huius voti aleam : tibi sapientia, mihi sapere con- 
tingat ; pares erimus. 

^ spatiososque later MSS. ; speciososque BA. 

" an later MSS. ; in BA. 

^ hoc non esse add. Muretus. 

* subibo Erasmus ; subito BA. 

" Presumably an allusion to the syllogistic enthusiasts 
rather than to Lucilius and his like. 



when I am arraigning them, and of wasting words 
on a subject that is perfectly clear. For who can 
doubt that, if heat is an evil, it is also an evil to be 
hot ? Or that, if cold is an evil, it is an evil to 
be cold ? Or that, if life is a Good, so is being 
alive ? All such matters are on the outskirts of 
wisdom, not in wisdom itself. But our abiding-place 
should be in wisdom itself. Even though one takes 
a fancy to roam, wisdom has large and spacious 
retreats : we may investigate the nature of the 
gods, the fuel which feeds the constellations, or all 
the varied courses of the stars ; we may speculate 
whether our affairs move in harmony with those of 
the stars, whether the impulse to motion comes 
from thence into the minds and bodies of all, and 
whether even these events which we call fortuitous 
are fettered by strict laws and nothing in this uni- 
verse is unforeseen or unregulated in its revolutions. 
Such topics have nowadays been withdrawn from 
instruction in morals, but they uphft the mind and 
raise it to the dimensions of the subject which it 
discusses ; the matters, however, of which I was 
speaking a while ago, wear away and wear down the 
mind, not (as you and yours « maintain) whetting, 
but weakening it. And I ask you, are we to fritter 
away that necessary study which we owe to greater 
and better themes, in discussing a matter which may 
perhaps be wrong and is certainly of no avail ? How 
will it profit me to know whether wisdom is one 
thing, and being wise another ? How will it profit 
me to know that the one is, and the other is not, 
a Good ? Suppose I take a chance, and gamble on 
this prayer : " Wisdom for you, and being wise for 
me ! " We shall come out even. 



21 Potius id age, ut mihi viam monstres, qua ad ista 
perveniam. Die, quid vitare debeam, quid adpetere, 
quibus animum labantem studiis firmem, quemad- 
modum quae me ex transverse feriunt aguntque, 
procul a me repellam, quomodo par esse tot malis 
possim, quomodo istas calamitates removeam, quae 
ad me inruperunt, quomodo illas, ad quas ego inrupi. 
Doce, quomodo feram aerumnam sine gemitu meo, 
felicitatem sine alieno, quomodo ultimum ac neces- 
sarium non expectem, sed ipsemet,^ cum visum erit, 

22 profugiam. Nihil mihi videtur turpius quam optare 
mortem. Nam si vis vivere, quid optas mori ? Sive 
non vis, quid deos rogas, quod tibi nascenti dederunt ? 
Nam ut quandoque moriaris, etiam invito positum 
est, ut cum voles, in tua manu est. Alterum tibi 
necesse est, alterum licet. 

23 Turpissimum his diebus principium diserti me- 
hercules viri legi : " Ita," ^ inquit, " quamprimum 
moriar." Homo demens, optas rem tuam. " Ita 
quamprimum moriar." Fortasse inter has voces 
senex factus es. Alioqui quid in mora est ? Nemo 
te tenet ; evade, qua visum est. Elige quamlibet 
rerum naturae partem, quam tibi praebere exitum 
iubeas. Haec nempe sunt elementa,^ quibus hie 
mundus administratur, aqua, terra, spiritus. Omnia 

24 ista tam causae vivendi sunt quam viae mortis. " Ita 

^ ipsemet Pincianus ; ipsemecum BA. 
^ ita Pincianus ; itaque MSS. 
' elementa later MSS. ; et elementa BA. 

" i.e., wisdom or being wise. 


Try rather to show me the way by which I may 
attain those ends." Tell me what to avoid, what to 
seek, by what studies to strengthenmy tottering mind, 
how I may rebuff the waves that strike me abeam 
and drive me from my course, by what means I may 
be able to cope with all my evils, and by what means 
I can be rid of the calamities that have plunged in 
upon me and those into which I myself have plunged. 
Teach me how to bear the burden of sorrow without 
a groan on my part, and how to bear prosperity 
without making others groan ; also, how to avoid 
waiting for the ultimate and inevitable end, and to 
beat a retreat of my own free will, when it seems 
proper to me to do so. I think nothing is baser 
than to pray for death. For if you wish to live, why 
do you pray for death ? And if you do not wish to 
live, why do you ask the gods for that which they 
gave you at birth ? For even as, against your will, it 
has been settled that you must die some day, so the 
time when you shall wish to die is in your own 
hands. The one fact is to you a necessity, the other 
a privilege. 

I read lately a most disgraceful doctrine, uttered 
(more shame to him !) by a learned gentleman : "So 
may I die as soon as possible ! " Fool, thou art 
praying for something that is already thine own ! 
" So may I die as soon as possible ! " Perhaps thou 
didst grow old while uttering these very words ! At 
any rate, what is there to hinder ? No one detains 
thee ; escape by Avhatsoever way thou wilt ! Select 
any portion of Nature, and bid it provide thee with 
a means of departure ! These, namely, are the 
elements, by which the world's work is carried on — 
water, earth, air. All these are no more the causes 
of life than they are the ways of death. " So may 

VOL. Ill 2 A 353 


quamprimum moriar " : " quamprimum " istud quid 
esse vis ? Quern illi diem ponis ? Citius fieri 
quam optas, potest. Inbecillae mentis ista sunt 
verba et hac detestatione misericordiam captantis ; 
non vult mori qui optat. Deos vitam et salutem 
roga ; si mori placuit, hie mortis est fructus, optare 

25 Haec, mi Lucili, tractemus, his formemus animum. 
Hoc est sapientia, hoc est sapere, non disputatiunculis 
inanibus subtilitatem vanissimam agitare. Tot quae- 
stiones fortuna tibi posuit, nondum illas solvisti ; lam 
cavillaris ? Quam stultum est, cum signum pugnae 
acceperis, ventilare. Remove ista lusoria arma ; de- 
cretoriis opus est. Die, qua ratione nulla animum 
tristitia, nulla formido perturbet, qua ratione hoc 
secretarum cupiditatium pondus efFundam. Agatur 

26 aliquid. " Sapientia bonum est, sapere non est 
bonum " ; sic fit, ut ^ negemur sapere, ut hoc totum 
studium derideatur tamquam operatum supervacuis. 
Quid, si scires etiam illud quaeri, an bonum sit futura 
sapientia 2 ? Quid enim dubi est, oro te, an nee 
messem futuram iam sentiant horrea nee futuram 
adulescentiam pueritia viribus aut ullo robore in- 
tellegat ? Aegro interim nil ventura sanitas prodest. 

^ ut add. Schweighaeuser. 
* sit futura sapientia Pine. ; sit puta sapientia BA. 



I die as soon as possible ! " And what is thy wish 
with regard to this " as soon as possible " ? What 
day dost thou set for the event ? It may be 
sooner than thy prayer requests. Words like this 
come from a weak mind, from one that courts pity 
by such cursing ; he who prays for death does not 
wish to die. Ask the gods for life and health ; if 
thou art resolved to die, death's reward is to have 
done with prayers. 

It is with such problems as these, my dear Lucilius, 
that we should deal, by such problems that we 
should mould our minds. This is wisdom, this is 
what being wise means — not to bandy empty subtle- 
ties in idle and petty discussions. Fortune has 
set before you so many problems^ — which you have 
not yet solved — and are you still splitting hairs ? 
How foolish it is to practise strokes after you have 
heard the signal for the fight ! Away with all these 
dummy-weapons ; you need armour for a fight to 
the finish. Tell me by what means sadness and fear 
may be kept from disturbing my soul, by what means 
I may shift off this burden of hidden cravings. Do 
something ! " Wisdom is a Good, but being wise is 
not a Good ; " such talk results for us in the judg- 
ment that we are not wise, and in making a laughing- 
stock of this whole field of study — on the ground 
that it wastes its eifort on useless things. Suppose 
you knew that this question was also debated : 
whether future wisdom is a Good ? For, I beseech 
you, how could one doubt whether barns do not 
feel the weight of the harvest that is to come, and 
that boyhood does not have premonitions of approach- 
ing young manhood by any brawn and power ? 
The sick person, in the intervening period, is not 
helped by the health that is to come, any more 



non magis quam currentem luctantemque post multos 

27 secuturum menses otium reficit. Quis nescit hoc 
ipso non esse bonum id, quod futurum est, quia 
futurum est ? Nam quod bonum est, utique prodest. 
Nisi praesentia prodesse non possunt ; si non prodest, 
bonum non est ; si prodest, iam est. Futurus sum 
sapiens ; hoc bonum erit, cum fuero, interim non 
est. Prius aHquid esse debet, deinde quale esse. 

28 Quomodo, oro te, quod adhuc nihil est, iam bonum 
est ? Quomodo autem tibi magis vis probari non 
esse aHquid, quam si dixero : futurum est ? Nondum 
enim venisse apparet quod venit. Ver secuturum 
est : scio nunc hiemem esse. Aestas secutura est : 
scio aestatem non esse. Maximum argumentum 

29 habeo nondum praesentis futurum esse. Sapiam, 
spero, sed interim non sapio. Si illud bonum ha- 
berem, iam hoc carerem malo. Futurum est, ut 
sapiam ; ex hoc hcet nondum sapere me intellegas. 
Non possum simul et in illo bono et in hoc malo 
esse ; duo ista non coeunt nee apud eundem sunt 
una malum et bonum. 

30 Transcurramus soUertissimas nugas et ad ilia, quae 
nobis aliquam opem sunt latura, properemus. Nemo, 
qui obstetricem parturienti filiae solHcitus accersit, 
edictum et ludorum ordinem perlegit. Nemo, qui ad 
incendium domus suae currit, tabulam latrun- 

" Cf. Ep. xlviii. 10 and notes. 
^ Cf. Ep. cvi. 1 1 and note. 



than a runner or a wrestler is refreshed by the 
period of repose that will follow many months later. 
Who does not know that what is yet to be is not a 
Good, for the very reason that it is yet to be ? For 
that which is good is necessarily helpful. And unless 
things are in the present, they cannot be helpful ; and 
if a thing is not helpful, it is not a Good ; if helpful, 
it is already. I shall be a wise man some day ; 
and this Good will be mine when I shall be a wise 
man, but in the meantime it is non-existent. A 
thing must exist first, then may be of a certain 
kind. How, I ask you, can that which is still 
nothing be already a Good ? And in what better 
way do you wish it to be proved to you that 
a certain thing is not, than to say : " It is yet 
to be " ? For it is clear that something which is on 
the way has not yet arrived. " Spring will follow " : 
I know that winter is here now. " Summer will 
follow : " I know that it is not summer. The best 
proof to my mind that a thing is not yet present 
is that it is yet to be. I hope some day to be wise, 
but meanwhile I am not wise. For if I possessed that 
Good, I should now be free from this Evil. Some 
day I shall be wise ; from this very fact you may 
understand that I am not yet wise. I cannot at the 
same time live in that state of Good and in this state 
of Evil ; the two ideas do not harmonize, nor do Evil 
and Good exist together in the same person. 

Let us rush past all this clever nonsense, and 
hurry on to that which will bring us real assistance. 
No man who is anxiously running after a midwife 
for his daughter in her birth-pangs will stop to read 
the praetor's edict " or the order of events at the 
games. No one who is speeding to save his burning 
house will scan a checker-board * to speculate how 



culariam prospicit, ut sciat, quomodo alligatus 

31 exeat calculus. At mehercule omnia tibi undique 
nuntiantur, et incendium domus et periculum 
liberorum et obsidio patriae et bonorum direptio ; 
adice isto naufragia motusque terrarum et quicquid 
aliud timeri potest ; inter ista districtus rebus nihil 
aliud quam animum oblectantibus vacas ? Quid 
inter sapientiam et sapere intersit, inquiris ? Nodos 
nectis ac solvis tanta mole impendente capiti tuo ? 

32 Non tarn benignum ac liberale tempus natura nobis 
dedit, ut aliquid ex illo vacet perdere, Et vide, 
quam multa etiam diligentissimis pereant : aliud 
valetudo sua cuique abstulit, aliud suorum ; aliud 
necessaria negotia, aliud publica occupaverunt ; 
vitam nobiscum dividit somnus. 

Ex^ hoc tempore tam angusto et rapido et nos 
auferente quid iuvat maiorem partem mittere in 

33 vanum ? Adice nunc, quod adsuescit animus de- 
lectare se potius quam sanare et philosophiam 
oblectamentum facere, cum remedium sit. Inter 
sapientiam et sapere quid intersit nescio ; scio mea 
non interesse, sciam ista an nesciam. Die mihi : 
cum quid inter sapientiam et sapere intersit didicero, 
sapiam ^ ? 

Cur ergo potius inter vocabula me sapientiae 

de tines quam inter opera ? Fac me fortiorem, fac 

securiorem, fac fortunae parem, fac superiorem. 

Possum autem superior esse, si derexero eo ^ omne, 

quod disco. Vale. 

^ ex Pine. ; et BA. 
^ sapiam later MSS. ; sapientiam BA. 
' eo added by Haase. 



the imprisoned piece can be freed. But good 
heavens ! — in your case all sorts of news are an- 
nounced on all sides — your house afire, your children 
in danger, your country in a state of siege, your 
property plundered. Add to this shipwreck, earth- 
quakes, and all other objects of dread ; harassed amid 
these troubles, are you taking time for matters which 
serve merely for mental entertainment ? Do you 
ask what difference there is between wisdom and 
being wise ? Do you tie and untie knots while such 
a ruin is hanging over your head ? Nature has not 
given us such a generous and free-handed space of 
time that we can have the leisure to waste any of it. 
Mark also how much is lost even when men are very 
careful: people are robbed of one thing by ill-health and 
of another thing by illness in the family ; at one time 
private, at another public, business absorbs the atten- 
tion ; and all the while sleep shares our lives with us. 

Out of this time, so short and swift, that carries 
us away in its flight, of what avail is it to spend the 
greater part on useless things ? Besides, our minds 
are accustomed to entertain rather than to cure 
themselves, to make an aesthetic pleasure out of 
philosophy, when philosophy should really be a 
remedy. What the distinction is between wisdom 
and being wise I do not know ; but I do know that it 
makes no difference to me whether I know such 
matters or am ignorant of them. Tell me : when I 
have found out the difference between wisdom and 
being wise, shall I be wise ? 

Why then do you occupy me with the words rather 
than with the works of wisdom ? Make me braver, 
make me calmer, make me the equal of Fortune, make 
me her superior. And I can be her superior, if I apply 
to this end everything that I learn. Farewell. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Exigis a me frequentiores epistulas. Rationes 
conferamus ; solvendonon eris. Convenerat quidem, 
ut tua priora essent, tu scriberes, ego rescriberem. 
Sed non ero difficilis ; bene credi tibi scio. Itaque 
in anticessum dabo nee faciam, quod Cicero, vir 
disertissimus, facere Atticum iubet, ut etiam " si rem 
nullam habebit, quod in buccam venerit, scribat." 

2 Numquam potest deesse, quod scribam, ut omnia ilia, 
quae Ciceronis implent epistulas, transeam : quis 
candidatus laboret ; quis alienis, quis suis viribus 
pugnet ; quis consulatum fiducia Caesaris, quis 
Pompei, quis arcae petat ; quam durus sit faenerator 
Caecilius, a quo minoris centesimis propinqui num- 
mum movere non possint. 

Sua satius est mala quam aliena tractare, se 
excutere et videre, quam multarum rerum candidatus 

3 sit, et non sufFragari. Hoc est, mi Lucili, egregium, 
hoc securum ac liberum, nihil petere et tota fortunae 
comitia transire. Quam putas esse iucundum tribu- 
bus vocatis, cum candidati in templis suis pendeant 
et alius nummos pronuntiet, alius per sequestrem 
agat, alius eorum manus osculis conterat, quibus 
designatus contingendam manum negaturus est, 

" i.e., solvendo aeri alieno, " in a position to pay one's 

" Ad Att. I. 12. 4. 

* Ad Att. i. 13. 1 : " Even his relatives can't screw a 
penny out of Caecilius at less than 12 per cent " (Winstedt). 




You have been demanding more frequent letters 
from me. But if we compare the accounts, you will 
not be on the credit side.** We had indeed made 
the agreement that your part came first, that you 
should write the first letters, and that I should answer. 
However, I shall not be disagreeable ; I know that 
it is safe to trust you, so I shall pay in advance, and 
yet not do as the eloquent Cicero bids Atticus do : ^ 
" Even if nothing enters your head to write about, 
write anyhow." For there will always be something 
for me to write about, even omitting all the kinds 
of news with which Cicero fills his correspondence : 
what candidate is in difficulties, who is striving on 
borrowed resources and who on his own ; who is a 
candidate for the consulship relying on Caesar, or on 
Pompey, or on his own strong-box ; what a merciless 
usurer is Caecihus," out of whom his friends cannot 
screw a penny for less than one per cent each month. 

But it is preferable to deal with one's own ills, 
rather than with another's — to sift oneself and see 
for how many vain things one is a candidate, and 
cast a vote for none of them. This, my dear Lucilius, 
is a noble thing, this brings peace and freedom — to 
canvass for nothing, and to pass by all the elections of 
Fortune. How can you call it enjoyable, when the 
tribes are called together and the candidates are 
making offerings in their favourite temples — some 
of them promising money gifts and others doing 
business by means of an agent, or wearing down 
their hands with the kisses of those to whom they 
will refuse the least finger-touch after being elected 



omnes attoniti vocem praeconis exspectent, stare 
otiosum et spectare illas nundinas nee ementem 

4 quicquam nee vendentem ? Quanto hie maiore gau- 
dio fruitur, qui non praetoria aut consularia comitia 
seeurus intuetur, sed magna ilia, in quibus alii 
honores anniversaries petunt, alii perpetuas potes- 
tates, alii bellorum eventus prosperos triumphosque, 
alii divitias, alii matrimonia ac liberos, alii salutem 
suam suorumque ! Quanti animi res est solum nihil 
petere, nulli supplicare, et dicere : " Nihil mihi 
tecum, fortuna. Non facio mei tibi copiam. Scio 
apud te Catones repelh, Vatinios fieri. Nihil rogo." 
Hoc est privatam facere fortunam. 

5 Licet ergo haec in vicem scribere et hanc semper 
integram egerere materiam circumspicientibus tot 
miha hominum inquieta, qui ut aliquid pestiferi 
consequantur, per mala nituntur in malum petuntque 

6 mox fugienda aut etiam fastidienda. Cui enim 
adsecuto satis fuit, quod optanti nimium videbatur ? 
Non est, ut existimant homines, avida felicitas, sed 
pusilla ; itaque neminem satiat. Tu ista credis ex- 
celsa, quia longe ab illis iaces ; ei vero, qui ad ilia 
pervenit, humilia sunt. Mentior, nisi adhuc quaerit 
escendere ; istud, quod tu summum putas, gradus 

7 est. Omnes autem male habet ignorantia veri ; 

" For the character of Vatinius see Ep. xciv. 25 note ; for 
a similar comparison of V. with Cato see Ep, cxx. 19. 


— when all are excitedly awaiting the announcement 
of the herald, do you call it enjoyable, I say, to 
stand idle and look on at this Vanity Fair without 
either buying or selling ? How much greater joy 
does one feel who looks without concern, not merely 
upon the election of a praetor or of a consul, but 
upon that great struggle in which some are seeking 
yearly honours, and others permanent power, and 
others the triumph and the prosperous outcome of 
war, and others riches, or marriage and offspring, or 
the welfare of themselves and their relatives ! What 
a great-souled action it is to be the only person who 
is canvassing for nothing, offering prayers to no man, 
and saying : " Fortune, I have nothing to do with 
you. I am not at your service. I know that men 
like Cato are spurned by you, and men like Vatinius 
made by you." I ask no favours." This is the way 
to reduce Fortune to the ranks. 

These, then, are the things about which we may 
write in turn, and this is the ever fresh material 
which we may dig out as we scan the restless multi- 
tudes of men, who, in order to attain something 
ruinous, struggle on through evil to evil, and seek 
that which they must presently shun or even find 
surfeiting. For who was ever satisfied, after attain- 
ment, with that which loomed up large as he prayed 
for it ? Happiness is not, as men think, a greedy 
thing ; it is a lowly thing ; for that reason it never 
gluts a man's desire. You deem lofty the objects 
you seek, because you are on a low level and hence 
far away from them ; but they are mean in the 
sight of him who has reached them. And I am 
very much mistaken if he does not desire to climb 
still higher ; that which you regard as the top is 
merely a rung on the ladder. Now all men suffer 



tamquam ad bona feruntur decepti rumoribus, deinde 
mala esse aut inania aut minora ^ quam speraverint, 
adepti ac multa passi vident. Maiorque pars mi- 
ratur ex intervallo fallentia, et vulgo bona pro 
magnis sunt. 

8 Hoc ne nobis quoque eveniat, quaeramus, quid sit 
bonum. Varia eius interpretatio fuit, alius illud aliter 
expressit. Quidam ita^finiunt : " bonum est quod 
invitat animos, quod ad se vocat." Huie statim 
opponitur : quid, si invitat quidem, sed in pemieiem ? 
Scis, quam multa mala blanda sint. Verum et veri 
simile inter se difFerunt ; ita quod bonum est, vero 
iungitur ; non est enim bonum nisi verum est. At 
quod invitat ad se et adlicefacit,^ veri simile est ; 

9 subripit, soUicitat, adtrahit. Quidam ita finierunt : 
" bonum est, quod petitionem sui movet, vel quod 
impetum animi tendentis ad se movet." Et huic 
idem opponitur ; multa enim impetum animi movent, 
quae petantur petentium malo. Melius illi, qui ita 
finierunt : " bonum est, quod ad se impetum animi 
secundum naturam movet et ita demum petendum 
est, cum coepit esse expetendum." lam et honestum 
est ; hoc enim est perfecte petendum. 

10 Locus ipse me admonet, ut quid intersit inter 
bonum honestumque dicam. AUquid inter se mix- 

^ minora later MSS. ; miro BA. 
^ adlicefacit Gronovius ; adlicer B ; adicer A. 

" Discussed in Ep. Ixxi. 4 f., Ixxiv. 30, Ixxvi. 16 if., and 
especially Ixxxvii. 25 : nam idem, est honestum et bonum. 
The Academic school tended to draw more of a distinction 
than the Stoic, as in Ep. Ixxxv. 17 f. 



from ignorance of the truth ; deceived by common 
report, they make for these ends as if they were 
good, and then, after having won their wish, and 
suffered much, they find them evil, or empty, or 
less important than they had expected. Most men 
admire that which deceives them at a distance, and by 
the crowd good things are supposed to be big things. 

Now, lest this happen also in our own case, let us 
ask what is the Good. It has been explained in 
various ways ; different men have described it 
in different ways. Some define it in this way : 
" That which attracts and calls the spirit to itself is 
a Good." But the objection at once comes up — 
what if it does attract, but straight to ruin ? You 
know how seductive many evils are. That which is 
true differs from that which looks like the truth ; 
hence the Good is connected with the true, for it is 
not good unless it is also true. But that which 
attracts and allures, is only like the truth ; it steals 
your attention, demands your interest, and draws 
you to itself. Therefore, some have given this 
definition : " That is good which inspires desire for 
itself, or rouses towards itself the impulse of a 
strugghng soul." There is the same objection to 
this idea ; for many things rouse the soul's impulses, 
and yet the search for them is harmful to the seeker. 
The following definition is better : ** That is good 
which rouses the soul's impulse towards itself in 
accordance with nature, and is worth seeking only 
when it begins to be thoroughly worth seeking." 
It is by this time an honourable thing ; for that is a 
thing completely worth seeking. 

The present topic suggests that I state the 
difference between the Good and the honourable." 
Now they have a certain quahty which blends with 



turn habent et inseparabile : nee potest bonum esse, 
nisi cui aliquid honesti inest, et honestum utique 
bonum est. Quid ergo inter duo interest ? Hones- 
tum ^ est perfectum bonum, quo beata vita completur, 

11 cuius contactu alia quoque bona fiunt. Quod dico, 
talest : sunt quaedam neque bona neque mala, 
tamquam militia, legatio, iurisdictio. Haec cum 
honeste administrata sunt, bona esse incipiunt et ex 
dubio in bonum transeunt. Bonum societate honesti 
fit, honestum per se bonum est. Bonum ex honesto 
fluit, honestum ex se est. Quod bonum est, malum 
esse potuit ; quod honestum est, nisi bonum esse 
non potuit. 

12 Hanc quidam finitionem reddiderunt : " bonum 
est, quod secundum naturam est." Attende, quid 
dicam : quod bonum, est secundum naturam ; non 
protinus quod secundum naturam est, etiam bonum 
est. Multa naturae quidem consentiunt, sed tam 
pusilla sunt, ut non conveniat illis boni nomen. Levia 
enim sunt, contemnenda. Nullum est minimum 
contemnendum bonum ; nam quamdiu exiguum est, 
bonum non est ; cum bonum esse coepit, non est 
exiguum. Unde adcognoscitur bonum ? Si perfecte 
secundum naturam est. 

13 " Fateris," inquis, " quod bonum est, secundum 
naturam esse ; haec eius proprietas est. Fateris et 
alia secundum naturam quidem esse, sed bona non 
esse. Quomodo ergo illud bonum est, cum haec non 

^ utique 6. e. q. e. i. d. i. honestum added by later MSS. ; 
om. BA. 



both and is inseparable from either : nothing can be 
good unless it contains an element of the honourable, 
and the honourable is necessarily good. What, 
then, is the difference between these two qualities ? 
The honourable is the perfect Good, and the happy 
life is fulfilled thereby ; through its influence other 
things also are rendered good. I mean something 
like this : there are certain things which are neither 
good nor bad — as military or diplomatic service, or 
the pronouncing of legal decisions. When such pur- 
suits have been honourably conducted, they begin to 
be good, and they change over from the " indifferent " 
class into the Good. The Good results from partner- 
ship with the honourable, but the honourable is good 
in itself. The Good springs from the honourable, but 
the latter from itself. What is good might have 
been bad ; what is honourable could never have 
been anything but good. 

Some have defined as follows : " That is good 
which is according to nature." Now attend to my 
own statement : that which is good is according to 
nature, but that which is according to nature does 
not also become immediately good ; for many things 
harmonize with nature, but are so petty that it is 
not suitable to call them good. For they are un- 
important and deserve to be despised. But there is 
no such thing as a very small and despicable good, 
for, as long as it is scanty, it is not good, and when 
it begins to be good, it ceases to be scanty. How, 
then, can the Good be recognized? Only if it is 
completely according to nature. 

Pgople say : " You admit that that which is good 
is according to nature ; for this is its peculiar quality. 
You admit, too, that there are other things according 
to nature, which, however, are not good. How then 



sint ? Quomodo ad aliam proprietatem pervenit, 
cum utrique praecipuum illud commune sit, secundum 

14 naturam esse ? " Ipsa scilicet magnitudine. Nee 
hoc novum est, quaedam crescendo mutari. Infans 
fuit ; factus est pubes, alia eius proprietas fit. lUe 
enim inrationalis est, hie rationalis. Quaedam incre- 
mento non tantum in maius exeunt, sed in aliud. 

15 " Non fit," inquit, " aliud quod maius fit. Utrum 
lagonam an dolium impleas vino, nihil refert ; in 
utroque proprietas vini est. Et exiguum mellis pon- 
dus et magnum ^ sapore non difFert." Divers a ponis 
exempla ; in istis enim eadem qualitas ^ est ; quam- 

16 vis augeantur, manet. Quaedam amplificata in suo 
genere et in sua proprietate perdurant. 

Quaedam post multa incrementa ultima demvun 
vertit adiectio et novam ilBs aliamque quam in qua 
fuerunt, condicionem inprimit. Unus lapis facit 
fornicem, ille, qui latera inclinata cuneavit ^ et inter- 
ventu suo vinxit. Summa adiectio quare plurimum 
facit vel exigua ? Quia non auget, sed implet. 

17 Quaedam processu priorem exuunt formam et in 
novam transeunt. Ubi aliquid animus diu protulit 
et magnitudinem eius sequendo lassatus est, infinitum 
coepit vocari. Quod longe aliud factum est quam 

^ et magnum later MSS. ; ex m^gno BA. 

* qualitas later MSS. ; aequalitas BA. 

* cuneavit later MSS. ; cenavit BA. 

" This argument (that complete virtue is a sort of trans- 
forming climax of life) is not to be confused with the theory 
of accessio (a term used also in Roman law), or " addition " ; 
for virtue does not permit of accessio, or the addition of any 
external advantage. See Ep, Ixvi. 9 quid accedere per/ecto 
potest f 



can the former be good, and the latter not ? How 
can there be an alteration in the peculiar quality of 
a thing, when each has, in common with the other, 
the special attribute of being in accord with nature ? " 
Surely because of its magnitude. It is no new idea 
that certain objects change as they grow. A person, 
once a child, becomes a youth ; his peculiar quality 
is transformed ; for the child could not reason, but 
the youth possesses reason. Certain things not only 
grow in size as they develop, but grow into some- 
thing else. Some reply : " But that which becomes 
greater does not necessarily become different. It 
matters not at all whether you pour wine into a flask 
or into a vat ; the wine keeps its peculiar quality in 
both vessels. Small and large quantities of honey 
are not distinct in taste." But these are different 
cases which you mention ; for wine and honey have 
a uniform quality ; no matter how much the quantity 
is enlarged, the quality is the same. For some 
things endure according to their kind and their 
peculiar qualities, even when they are enlarged. 

There are others, however, which, after many in- 
crements, are altered by the last addition ; there is 
stamped upon them a new character, different from 
that of yore. One stone makes an archway — the 
stone which wedges the leaning sides and holds the 
arch together by its position in the middle. And 
why does the last addition, . although very slight, 
make a great deal of difference ? Because it does 
not increase ; it fills up. Some things, through 
development, put off their former shape and are 
altered into a new figure." When the mind has 
for a long time developed some idea, and in the 
attempt to grasp its magnitude has become weary, 
that thing begins to be called " infinite." And 

VOL. Ill 2 B 369 


fuit, cum magnum videretur, sed finitum. Eodem 
modo aliquid difficulter secari cogitavimus ; novissime 
crescente hac difficultate insecabile inventum est. 
Sic ab eo, quod vix et aegre movebatur, processimus 
ad inmobile. Eadem ratione aliquid secundum na- 
turam fuit ; hoc in aliam proprietatem magnitude 
sua transtulit et bonum fecit. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Quotiens aliquid inveni, non expecto, donee dicas 
" in commune." Ipse mihi dico. Quid sit, quod 
invenerim quaeris ; sinum laxa, merum lucrum est. 
Docebo, quomodo fieri dives celerrime possis. Quam 
valde cupis audire ! nee inmerito ; ad maximas te 
divitias conpendiaria ducam. Opus erit tamen tibi 
creditore ; ut negotiari possis, aes alienum facias 
oportet, sed nolo per intercessorem mutueris, nolo 

2 proxenetae nomen tuum iactent. Paratum tibi 
creditorem dabo Catonianum ilium, a te mutuum 
sumes. Quantulumcumque est, satis erit, si, quid- 
quid deerit,^ id a nobis petierimus. Nihil enim, mi 
Lucili, interest, utrum non desideres an habeas. 
Summa rei in utroque eadem est : non torqueberis. 

* deerit later MSS. ; dederit BA. 

" Seneca here reverts to the money-metaphors of Epp. 
i.-xxxiii. — lucellum, munusculum, diurna mercedula, etc. 
* Frag. p. 79 Jordan. 



then this has become something far different from 
what it was when it seemed great but finite. In 
the same way we have thought of something as 
difficult to divide ; at the very end, as the task grows 
more and more hard, the thing is found to be 
"indivisible." Similarly, from that which could 
scarcely or with difficulty be moved we have 
advanced on and on — until we reach the " immov- 
able." By the same reasoning a certain thing was 
according to nature ; its greatness has altered it 
into some other peculiar quality and has rendered 
it a Good. Farewell. 


Whenever I have made a discovery, I do not wait 
for you to cry " Shares ! " I say it to myself in 
your behalf. If you wish to know what it is that I 
have found, open your pocket ; it is clear profit."* 
What I shall teach you is the ability to become rich 
as speedily as possible. How keen you are to hear 
the news ! And rightly ; I shall lead you by a short 
cut to the greatest riches. It will be necessary, 
however, for you to find a loan ; in order to be able 
to do business, you must contract a debt, although 
I do not wish you to arrange the loan through a 
middle-man, nor do I wish the brokers to be dis- 
cussing your rating. I shall furnish you with a ready 
creditor, Cato's famous one, who says : ^ " Borrow 
from yourself ! " No matter how small it is, it will 
be enough if we can only make up the deficit from 
our own resources. For, my dear Lucilius, it does 
not matter whether you crave nothing, or whether 
you possess something. The important principle in 
either case is the same — freedom from worry. 



Nee illud praecipio, ut aliquid naturae neges — 
contumax est, non potest vinci, suum poscit — sed 
ut quicquid naturam excedit, scias precarium esse, 

3 non necessarium. Esurio ; edendum est. Utrum 
hie panis sit plebeius an siligineus, ad naturam nihil 
pertinet ; ilia ventrem non delectari vult, sed 
impleri. Sitio ; utrum haec aqua sit, quam ex 
lacu proximo excepero, an ea, quam multa nive 
clusero, ut rigore refrigeretur alieno, ad naturam 
nihil pertinet. Ilia hoc unum iubet, sitim extingui ; 
utrum sit aureum poculum an crustalhnum an 
murreum an Tiburtinus calix an manus concava, 

4 nihil refert. Finem omnium rerum specta, et super- 
vacua dimittes. Fames me appellat ; ad proxima 
quaeque porrigatur manus ; ipsa mihi commen- 

5 davit quodcumque comprendero. Nihil contemnit 

Quid sit ergo, quod me delectaverit quaeris ? 
Videtur mihi egregie dictum : sapiens divitiarum 
naturalium est quaesitor acerrimus. " Inani me," ^ 
■ inquis, " lance muneras. Quid est istud ? Ego iam 
paraveram fiscos. Circumspiciebam, in quod me 
mare negotiaturus inmitterem, quod public;um 
agitarem, quas arcesserem merces. Decipere est 
istud, docere paupertatem, cum divitias promiseris." 
Ita tu pauperem iudicas, cui nihil deest ? " Suo," 
inquis, " et patientiae suae beneficio, non fortunae." 
Ideo ergo ilium non iudicas divitem, quia divitiae 

^ inani me later MSS. ; inanima BA. 

" i.e., "something for one's spare time"; c/. Z:^p. liii. 8 note, 
non est quod precario philosopheris. 
* i.e., of common earthenware. 
' i.e., had got my coiFers ready for the promised wealth. 



But I do not counsel you to deny anything to 
nature — for nature is insistent and cannot be over- 
come ; she demands her due — but you should know 
that anything in excess of nature's wants is a mere 
" extra " <* and is not necessary. If I am hungry, I 
must eat. Nature does not care whether the bread 
is the coarse kind or the finest wheat ; she does not 
desire the stomach to be entertained, but to be 
filled. And if I am thirsty, Nature does not care 
whether I drink water from the nearest reservoir, or 
whether I freeze it artificially by sinking it in large 
quantities of snow. Nature orders only that the 
thirst be quenched ; and it does not matter whether 
it be a golden, or crystal, or murrine goblet, or a 
cup from Tibur,** or the hollow hand. Look to 
the end, in all matters, and then you will cast away 
superfluous things. Hunger calls me ; let me stretch 
forth my hand to that which is nearest ; my very 
hunger has made attractive in my eyes whatever I 
can grasp. A starving man despises nothing. 

Do you ask, then, what it is that has pleased me ? 
It is this noble saying which I have discovered : 
" The wise man is the keenest seeker for the riches of 
nature." " What," you ask, " will you present me 
with an empty plate ? What do you mean ? I had 
already arranged my coffers ; " I was already looking 
about to see some stretch of water on which I might 
embark for purposes of trade, some state revenues 
that I might handle, and some merchandise that I 
might acquire. That is deceit — showing me poverty 
after promising me riches." But, friend, do you 
regard a man as poor to whom nothing is wanting ? 
" It is, however," you reply, " thanks to himself and 
his endurance, and not thanks to his fortune." Do 
you, then, hold that such a man is not rich, just 



eius desinere non possunt ? Utrum mavis habere 

6 multum an satis ? Qui multum habet, plus cupit ; 
quod est argumentura nondum ilium satis habere ; 
qui satis habet, consecutus est, quod numquam 
diviti contigit, finem. An has ideo non putas esse 
divitias, quia propter illas nemo proscriptus est ? 
Quia propter illas nulU venenum fiUus, nulh uxor 
inpegit ? Quia in bello tutae sunt ? Quia in pace 
otiosae ? Quia nee habere illas periculosum est nee 
operosum disponere ? 

7 " At parum habet qui tantum non alget, non 
esurit, non sitit." Plus luppiter non habet. Num- 
quam parum est quod satis est, et numquam multum 
est quod satis noi> est. Post Dareum et Indos 
pauper est Alexander. Mentior ? Quaerit, quod 
suum faciat, scrutatur maria ignota, in oceanum 
classes novas mittit et ipsa, ut ita dicam, mundi 
claustra perrumpit. Quod naturae satis est, homini 

8 non est. Inventus est qui concupisceret aliquid 
post omnia ; tanta est caecitas mentium et tanta 
initiorum suorum unicuique, cum processit, oblivio. 
lile modo ignobilis anguli non sine controversia 
dominus tacto fine terrarum per suum rediturus 

9 orbem tristis est. Neminem pecunia divitem fecit, 
immo contra nulh non maiorem sui cupidinem 
incussit. Quaeris, quae sit huius rei causa ? Plus 
incipit habere posse, qui plus habet. 

" Alexander the Great. 


because his wealth can never fail ? Would you 
rather have much, or enough ? He who has much 
desires more — a proof that he has not yet acquired 
enough ; but he who has enough has attained that 
which never fell to the rich man's lot — a stopping- 
point. Do you think that this condition to which I 
refer is not riches, just because no man has ever 
been proscribed as a result of possessing them ? Or 
because sons and wives have never thrust poison 
down one's throat for that reason ? Or because in 
war-time these riches are unmolested ? Or because 
they bring leisure in time of peace ? Or because it 
is not dangerous to possess them, or troublesome to 
invest them ? 

" But one possesses too little, if one is merely free 
from cold and hunger and thirst." Jupiter himself 
however, is no better off. Enough is never too little, 
and not-enough is never too much. Alexander was 
poor even after his conquest of Darius and the Indies. 
Am I wrong ? He seeks something which he can 
really make his own, exploring unknown seas, sending 
new fleets over the Ocean, and, so to speak, breaking 
down the very bars of the universe. But that which 
is enough for nature, is not enough for man. There 
have been found persons who crave something more 
after obtaining everything ; so blind are their wits 
and so readily does each man forget his start after 
he has got under way. He who " was but lately the 
disputed lord of an unknown corner of the world, is 
dejected when, after reaching the limits of the globe, 
he must march back through a world which he has 
made his own. Money never made a man rich ; on the 
contrary, it always smites men with a greater craving 
for itself. Do you ask the reason for this ? He who 
possesses more begins to be able to possess still more. 



Ad summam, quem voles mihi ex his, quorum 
nomina cum Crasso Licinoque ^ numerantur, in 
medium licet protrahas. Adferat censum, et quic- 
quid habet et quicquid sperat, simul computet ; 
iste, si mihi credis, pauper est, si tibi, potest esse. 

10 At hie, qui se ad id,^ quod exigit natura, composuit, 
non tantum extra sensum est paupertatis, sed extra 
metum. Sed ut scias, quam difficile sit res suas 
ad naturalem modum coartare, hie ipse, quem circa 
dicimus, quem tu vocas pauperem, habet aliquid et 

11 supervacui. At excaecant populum et in se con- 
vertunt opes, si numerati multum ex aliqua domo 
efFertur, si multum auri tecto quoque eius inlinitur, 
si familia aut corporibus electa aut spectabilis cultu 
est. Omnium istorum felicitas in publicum spec- 
tat ; ille, quem nos et populo et fortunae sub- 

12 duximus,^ beatus introsum est. Nam quod ad illos 
pertinet, apud quos falso divitiarum nomen invasit 
occupata paupertas, sic divitias habent, quomodo 
habere dicimur febrem, cum ilia nos habeat. E 
contrario dicere solemus : febris ilium tenet. Eodem 
modo dicendum est : divitiae ilium tenent. Nihil 
ergo monuisse te mahm quam hoc, quod nemo 
monetur satis, ut omnia naturalibus desideriis 
metiaris, quibus aut gratis satis fiat aut parvo ; 

13 tantum miscere vitia desideriis noli. Quaeris, quali 

^ Crasso Licinoque Muretus ; croeso (crasso) licinioqtie 

2 ad id later MSS. ; ad BA. 

^ subduximus later MSS. ; subdiximus BA. 

" i.e., a " poverty " which is never satisfied. 


To sum up, you may hale forth for our inspection 
any of the miUionaires whose names are told off 
when one speaks of Crassus and Licinus. Let him 
bring along his rating and his present property and 
his future expectations, and let him add them all 
together : such a man, according to my behef, is 
poor ; according to yours, he may be poor some day. 
He, however, who has arranged his affairs according 
to nature's demands, is free from the fear, as well 
as from the sensation, of poverty. And in order that 
you may know how hard it is to narrow one's in- 
terests down to the limits of nature — even this very 
person of whom we speak, and whom you call poor, 
possesses something actually superfluous. Wealth, 
however, blinds and attracts the mob, when they see 
a large bulk of ready money brought out of a man's 
house, or even his walls crusted with abundance of 
gold, or a retinue that is chosen for beauty of 
physique, or for attractiveness of attire. The pros- 
perity of all these men looks to public opinion ; but the 
ideal man, whom we have snatched from the control 
of the people and of Fortune, is happy inwardly. 
For as far as those persons are concerned, in whose 
minds bustling <* poverty has wrongly stolen the title 
of riches — these individuals have riches just as we 
say that we " have a fever," when really the fever 
has us. Conversely, we are accustomed to say : " A 
fever grips him." And in the same way we should 
say : " Riches grip him." There is therefore no 
advice — and of such advice no one can have too 
much — which I would rather give you than this : 
that you should measure all things by the demands 
of Nature ; for these demands can be satisfied either 
without cost or else very cheaply. Only, do not mix 
any vices with these demands. Why need you ask 



mensa, quali argento, quam paribus ministeriis et 

levibus adferatur cibus ? Nihil praeter cibum natura 


Num tibi, cum fauces urit sitis, aurea quaeris 
Pocula ? Num esuriens fastidis omnia praeter 
Pavonem rhombumque ? 

14 Ambitiosa non est fames, contenta desinere est ; 
quo desinat, non nimis curat. Infelicis luxuriae ista 
tormenta sunt ; quaerit, quemadmodum post satu- 
ritatem quoque esuriat, quemadmodum non impleat 
ventrem, sed farciat, quemadmodum sitim prima 
potione sedatam revocet. Egregie itaque Horatius 
negat ad sitim pertinere, quo poculo aqua aut quam 
eleganti manu ministretur. Nam si pertinere ad 
te iudicas, quam crinitus puer et quam perlucidum 
tibi poculum porrigat, non sitis. 

15 Inter reliqua hoc nobis praestitit natura prae- 
cipuum, quod necessitati fastidium excussit. Reci- 
piunt supervacua dilectum : hoc parum decens, illud 
parum laudatum, oculos hoc meos laedit. Id actum 
est ab illo mundi conditore, qui nobis vivendi iura 
discripsit, ut salvi essemus, non ut dehcati. Ad 
salutem omnia parata sunt et in promptu, dehciis 
omnia misere ac sollicite conparantur. 

16 Utamur ergo hoc naturae beneficio inter magna 

» Horace, -Sfo<. 1. 2. 114 if. 



how your food should be served, on what sort of 
table, with what sort of silver, with what well- 
matched and smooth-faced young servants ? Nature 
demands nothing except mere food. 

Dost seek, when thirst inflames thy throat, a cup of gold ? 
Dost scorn all else but peacock's flesh or turbot 
When the hunger comes upon thee ? " 

Hunger is not ambitious ; it is quite satisfied to 
come to an end ; nor does it care very much what 
food brings it to an end. Those things are but the 
instruments of a luxury which is not " happiness " ; 
a luxury which seeks how it may prolong hunger 
even after repletion, how to stuff the stomach, not to 
fill it, and how to rouse a thirst that has been satisfied 
with the first drink. Horace's words are therefore 
most excellent when he says that it makes no differ- 
ence to one's thirst in what costly goblet, or with 
what elaborate state, the water is served. For if 
you believe it to be of importance how curly-haired' 
your slave is, or how transparent is the cup which he 
offers you, you are not thirsty. 

Among other things. Nature has bestowed upon 
us this special boon : she reheves sheer necessity 
of squeamishness. The superfluous things admit of 
choice ; we say : " That is not suitable " ; " this is not 
well recommended " ; " that hurts my eyesight." The 
Builder of the universe, who laid down for us the 
laws of hfe, provided that we should exist in well- 
being, but not in luxury. Everything conducive to 
our well-being is prepared and ready to our hands ; 
but what luxury requires can never be got together 
except with wretchedness and anxiety. 

Let us therefore use this boon of Nature by 
reckoning it among the things of high importance ; 



numerando et cogitemus nuUo nomine melius illam 
meruisse de nobis, quam quia quicquid ex necessitate 
desideratur, sine fastidio sumitur. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Epistula tua per plures quaestiunculas vagata est, 
sed in una constitit et hanc expediri desiderat, quo- 
modo ad nos boni honestique notitia pervenerit. 
Haec duo apud alios diversa sunt, apud nos tantum 

2 divisa. Quid sit hoc dicam. Bonum putant esse 
aliqui id,^ quod utile est ; itaque hoc et ^ divitiis et 
equo et vino et calceo nomen inponunt ; tanta fit 
apud illos boni viUtas et adeo in sordida usque 
descendit. Honestum putant, cui ratio recti officii 
constat, tamquam pie curatam patris senectutem, 
adiutam amici paupertatem, fortem expeditionem, 

3 prudentem moderatamque sententiam.^ Nos * ista 
duo quidem facimus, sed ex uno. Nihil est bonum, 
nisi quod honestum est. Quod honestum, est utique 
bonum. Supervacuum iudico adicere, quid inter ista 
discriminis sit, cum saepe dixerim. Hoc unum dicam, 
nihil bonum nobis ^ videri, quo quis et male uti 
potest. Vides autem divitiis, nobilitate, viribus quam 
multi male utantur. 

Nunc ergo ad id revertor, de quo desideras did, 

* aliqui id Buecheler and Windhaus ; aliquit BA. 

^ et later MSS. ; et de BA. 

^ sententiam later MSS. ; sentiam BA. 

* nos cod. Vat. ; om. BA. 

• nihil bonum nobis cod. Ottobon. ; nihil nobis BA. 

" i.e., the Peripatetic and Academic schools. 
* Cf. Ep. cxviii. 10 and note. 


let us reflect that Nature's best title to our gratitude 
is that whatever we want because of sheer necessity 
we accept without squeamishness» Farewell. 


Your letter roamed over several little problems, 
but finally dwelt upon this alone, asking for explana- 
tion : " How do we acquire a knowledge of that 
which is good and that which is honourable ? " In 
the opinion of other schools," these two qualities are 
distinct ; among our followers, however, they are 
merely divided. This is what I mean : Some believe 
the Good to be that which is useful ; they accordingly 
bestow this title upon riches, horses, wine, and shoes ; 
so cheaply do they view the Good, and to such base 
uses do they let it descend. They regard as honour- 
able that which agrees with the principle of right 
conduct — such as taking dutiful care of an old father, 
relieving a friend's poverty, showing bravery on a 
campaign, and uttering prudent and well-balanced 
opinions. We, however, do make the Good and the 
honourable two things, but we make them out of 
one : only the honourable can be good ; also, the 
honourable is necessarily good. I hold it superfluous 
to add the distinction between these two qualities, 
inasmuch as I have mentioned it so many times. ^ 
But I shall say this one thing — that we regard 
nothing as good which can be put to wrong use by 
any person. And you see for yourself to what wrong 
uses many men put their riches, their high position, 
or their physical powers. 

To return to the matter on which you desire 



quomodo ad nos prima boni honestique notitia per- 

4 venerit. Hoc nos natura docere non potuit ; semina 
nobis scientiae dedit, scientiam non dedit. Quidam 
aiunt nos in notitiam incidisse, quod est incredibile, 
virtutis alicui speciem casu occucurrisse. Nobis vide- 
tur observatio collegisse et rerum saepe factarum 
inter se conlatio, per analogian nostri intellectum et 
honestum et bonum indicant. Hoc verbum cum 
Latini grammatici civitate donaverint, ego damnan- 
dum non puto, puto ^ in civitatem suam redigendum. 
Utar ergo illo non tantum tamquam recepto, sed 
tamquam usitato. 

5 Quae sit haec analogia, dicam. Noveramus cor- 
poris sanitatem ; ex hac cogitavimus esse aliquam et 
animi. Noveramus vires corporis ; ex his coUegimus 
esse et animi robur. Aliqua benigna facta, aliqua 
humana, aliqua fortia nos obstupefecerant ; haec 
coepimus tamquam perfecta mirari. Suberant illis 
multa vitia, quae species conspicui alicuius facti 
fulgorque celabat ; haec dissimulavimus. Natura 
iubet augere laudanda, nemo non gloriam ultra verum 
tulit ; ex his ergo speciem ingentis boni traximus. 

6 Fabricius Pyrrhi regis aurum reppulit maiusque 
regno iudicavit regias opes posse contemnere. Idem 

^ puto add. Buecheler. 

" Consult Sandys, Hist. Class. Schol. i. pp. 148 and 175 f. 
Alexandrian " analogists " opposed Pergamene " anom- 
alists " with reference to the rules affecting the forms of 
words. Out of the controversy arose the scientific study of 



information : " How we first acquire the knowledge 
of that which is good and that which is honourable." 
Nature could not teach us this directly ; she has given 
us the seeds of knowledge, but not knowledge itself. 
Some say that we merely happened upon this 
knowledge ; but it is unbelievable that a vision of 
virtue could have presented itself to anyone by mere 
chance. We believe that it is inference due to 
observation, a comparison of events that have 
occurred frequently ; our school of philosophy hold 
that the honourable and the good have been com- 
prehended by analogy. Since the word " analogy " « 
has been admitted to citizen rank by Latin scholars, 
I do not think that it ought to be condemned, but 
I do think it should be brought into the citizenship 
which it can justly claim. I shall, therefore, make 
use of the word, not merely as admitted, but as 

Now what this " analogy " is, I shall explain. We 
understood what bodily health was : and from this 
basis we deduced the existence of a certain mental 
health also. We knew, too, bodily strength, and 
from this basis we inferred the existence of mental 
sturdiness. Kindly deeds, humane deeds, brave 
deeds, had at times amazed us ; so we began to 
admire them as if they were perfect. Underneath, 
however, there were many faults, hidden by the 
appearance and the brilliancy of certain conspicuous 
acts ; to these we shut our eyes. Nature bids us 
amplify praiseworthy things : everyone exalts re- 
nown beyond the truth. And thus from such deeds 
we <leduced the conception of some great good. 
Fabricius rejected King Pyrrhus's gold, deeming 
it greater than a king's crown to be able to scorn 
a king's money. Fabricius also, when the royal 



medico Pyrrhi promittente venenum se regi daturum 
monuit Pyrrhum, caveret insidias. Eiusdem animi 
fuit auro non vinci, veneno non vincere. Admirati 
sumus ingentem virum, quern non regis, non contra 
regem promissa flexissent, boni exempli tenacem, 
quod difficillimum est, in bello innocentem, qui ali- 
quod esse crederet etiam in hostes nefas, qui in 
summa paupertate, quam sibi decus fecerat, non 
aliter refugit divitias quam venenum. " Vive," in- 
quit, " beneficio meo, Pyrrhe, et gaude quod adhuc 
dolebas, Fabricium non posse corrumpi." 

7 Horatius Codes solus implevit pontis angustias 
adimique a tergo sibi reditum, dummodo iter hosti 
auferretur, iussit et tam diu prementibus restitit, 
donee revulsa ingenti ruina tigna sonuerunt. Post- 
quam respexit et extra periculum esse patriam 
periculo suo sensit, " veniat, si quis vult," inquit, 
" sic euntem sequi," iecitque ^ se in praeceps et non 
minus sollicitus in illo rapido alveo fluminis ut armatus 
quam ut salvus exiret, retento armorum victricium 
decore tam tutus rediit, quam si ponte venisset. 

8 Haec et eiusmodi facta imaginem nobis ostendere 
virtutis. Adiciam, quod mirum fortasse videatur : 
mala interdum speciem honesti optulere et optimum, 
ex contrario enituit.^ Sunt enim, ut scis, virtutibus 

^ iecitque later MSS. ; legitque BA^. 
2 enituit Buecheler, with cod. Ottobon. ; emicuit cod. 
Velz. ; nituit BA. 

» The two stories refer to the years 280 and 279 B.C., 
during the campaigns of Pyrrhus in Italy. 

* See Livy, ii. 10. 

* Livy {loo. cit.) reports him as saying : " Tiberine pater, 
te sancte precor, haec arma et hunc militem propitio flumine 
accipias ! " Macaulay in his ballad translates Livy's quota- 
tion almost literally. 



physician promised to give his master poison, warned 
Pyrrhus to beware of a plot. The selfsame man had 
the resolution to refuse either to be won over by 
gold or to win by poison. So we admired the hero, 
who could not be moved by the promises of the king 
or against the king, who held fast to a noble ideal, and 
who — is anything more difficult ? — was in war sinless ; 
for he believed that wrongs could be committed even 
against an enemy, and in that extreme poverty 
which he had made his glory, shrank from receiving 
riches as he shrank from using poison. " Live," he 
cried, " O Pyrrhus, thanks to me, and rejoice, instead 
of grieving as you have done till now, that Fabricius 
cannot be bribed ! " " 

Horatius Codes ^ blocked the narrow bridge alone, 
and ordered his retreat to be cut off, that the enemy's 
path might be destroyed ; then he long withstood 
his assailants until the crash of the beams, as they 
collapsed with a huge fall, rang in his ears. When 
he looked back and saw that his country, through 
his own danger, was free from danger, " Whoever," 
he cried, " wishes to pursue me this way, let him 
come \ " '^ He plunged headlong, taking as great 
care to come out armed from the midst of the dashing 
river-channel as he did to come out unhurt ; he 
returned, preserving the glory of his conquering 
weapons, as safely as if he had come back over the 

These deeds and others of the same sort have 
revealed to us a picture of virtue. I will add some- 
thing which may perhaps astonish you : evil things 
have sometimes offered the appearance of what is 
honourable, and that which is best has been mani- 
fested through its opposite. For there are, as you 
know, vices which are next-door to virtues ; and 

VOL. Ill 2 c 385 


vitia confinia, et perditis quoque ac turpibus recti 
similitudo est ; sic mentitur prodigus liberalem, cum j 
plurimum intersit, utrum quis dare sciat an servare 
nesciat. Multi, inquam, sunt, Lucili, qui non donant, 
sed proiciunt ; non voco ego liberalem pecuniae suae 
iratum. Imitatur neglegentia facilitatem, temeritas 

9 fortitudinem. Haec nos similitudo coegit attendere 
et distinguere specie quidem vicina, re autem pluri- 
mum inter se dissidentia, ac^ dum observamus eos, 
quos insignes egregium opus fecerat, adnotare, quis 
rem aliquam generoso animo fecisset et magno 
impetu, sed semel. Hunc vidimus in bello fortem, 
in foro timidum, animose paupertatem ferentem, 
humiliter infamiam ; factum laudavimus, contemp- 

10 simus virum. Alium vidimus adversus amicos be- 
nignum, adversus inimicos temperatum, et publica et 
privata sancte ac religiose administrantem, non 
deesse ei in iis quae toleranda erant, patientiam, in 
lis quae agenda, prudentiam. Vidimus, ubi tribuen- 
dum esset, plena manu dantem, ubi laborandum, 
pertinacem et obnixum ^ et lassitudinem corporis 
animo sublevantem. Praeterea idem erat semper et 
in omni actu par sibi, iam non consilio bonus, sed 
more eo perductus, ut non tantum recte facere posset, 

^ ac add. Gertz. 
* obnixum codd. Laur. and Ottobon. ; ohnoxium BA. 



even that which is lost and debased can resemble 
that which is upright. So the spendthrift falsely 
imitates the liberal man — although it matters a 
great deal whether a man knows how to give, or 
does not know how to save, his money. I assure 
you, my dear Lucilius, there are many who do not 
give, but simply throw away ; and I do not call a 
man liberal who is out of temper with his money. 
Carelessness looks like ease, and rashness like 
bravery. This resemblance has forced us to watch 
carefully and to distinguish between things which 
are by outward appearance closely connected, but 
which actually are very much at odds with one 
another ; and in watching those who have become 
distinguished as a result of some noble effort, we 
have been forced to observe what persons have done 
some deed with noble spirit and lofty impulse, but 
have done it only once. We have marked one man 
who is brave in war and cowardly in civil affairs, 
enduring poverty courageously and disgrace shame- 
facedly ; we have praised the deed but we have 
despised the man. Again, we have marked another 
man who is kind to his friends and restrained 
towards his enemies, who carries on his political 
and his personal business with scrupulous devotion, 
not lacking in longsuffering where there is anything 
that must be endured, and not lacking in prudence 
when action is to be taken. We have marked him 
giving with lavish hand when it was his duty to 
make a payment, and, when he had to toil, striving 
resolutely and lightening his bodily weariness by his 
resolution. Besides, he has always been the same, 
consistent in all his actions, not only sound in his 
judgment but trained by habit to such an extent 
that he not only can act rightly, but cannot help 



sed nisi recte facere non posset. Intelleximus in illo 
perfectam esse virtutem. 

11 Hanc in partes divisimus ; oportebat cupiditates 
refrenari, metus comprimi, facienda provideri, red- 
denda distribui ; conprehendimus temperantiam, 
fortitudinem, prudentiam, iustitiam et suum cuique 
dedimus officium. Ex quo ergo virtutem intellexi- 
mus ? Ostendit illam nobis ordo eius et decor et con- 
stantia et omnium inter se actionum concordia et 
magnitudo super omnia efFerens sese. Hinc in- 
tellecta est ilia beata vita secundo defluens cursu, 

12 arbitrii sui tota. Quomodo ergo hoc ipsum nobis 
apparuit ? Dicam. Numquam vir ille perfectus 
adeptusque virtutem fortunae maledixit, numquam 
accidentia tristis excepit, civem esse se universi et 
militem credens labores velut imperatos subiit. 
Quicquid inciderat, non tamquam malum aspernatus 
est et in se casu ^ delatum, sed quasi delegatum sibi. 
Hoc qualecumque est, inquit, meum est ; asperum 
est, durum est, in hoc ipso navemus operam. 

13 Necessario itaque magnus apparuit qui numquam 
malis ingemuit, numquam de fato suo questus est ; 
fecit multis intellectum sui et non aliter quam in 
tenebris lumen efFulsit advertitque in .se omnium 
animos, cum esset placidus et lenis, humanis divinis- 

14 que rebus pariter aequus. Habebat perfectum ani- 
mum et ad summam sui adductum, supra quam 

^ casu ed. Ven. ; casum B ; cassum A. 


acting rightly. We have formed the conception 
that in such a man perfect virtue exists. 

We have separated this perfect virtue into its 
several parts. The desires had to be reined in, fear 
to be suppressed, proper actions to be arranged, 
debts to be paid ; we therefore included self- 
restraint, bravery, prudence, and justice — assigning 
to each quality its special function. How then have 
we formed the conception of virtue ? Virtue has 
been manifested to us by this man"^ order, propriety, 
steadfastness, absolute harmony of action, and a 
greatness of soul that rises superior to everything. 
Thence has been derived our conception of the 
happy life, which flows along with steady course, 
completely under its own control. How then did 
we discover this fact ? I will tell you : that perfect 
man, who has attained virtue, never cursed his luck, 
and never received the results of chance with de- 
jection ; he believed that he was citizen and soldier 
of the universe, accepting his tasks as if they were 
his orders. Whatever happened, he did not spurn it 
as if it were evil and borne in upon him by hazard ; 
he accepted it as if it were assigned to be his duty. 
" Whatever this may be," he says, " it is my lot ; it 
is rough and it is hard, but I must work diligently at 
the task." 

Necessarily, therefore, the man has shown himself 
great who has never grieved in evil days and never 
bewailed his destiny ; he has given a clear concep- 
tion of himself to many men ; he has shone forth 
like a light in the darkness and has turned towards 
himself the thoughts of all men, because he was 
gentle and calm and equally compliant with the 
orders of man and of God. He possessed perfection 
of soul, developed to its highest capabilities, inferior 



nihil est nisi mens dei, ex quo pars et in hoc pectus 
mortale defluxit. Quod numquam magis divinum 
est, quam ubi mortalitatem suam cogitat et scit 
in hoc natum hominem, ut vita defungeretur, nee 
domum esse hoc corpus, sed hospitium, et quidem 
breve hospitium, quod rehnquendum est, ubi te 

15 gravem esse hospiti videas. Maximum, inquam, mi 
Lucili, argumentum est animi ab altiore sede venien- 
tis, si haec, in quibus versatur, humilia iudicat et 
angusta, si exire non metuit. Scit enim, quo ex- 
iturus sit, qui unde venerit meminit. Non videmus 
quam multa nos incommoda ^ exagitent, quam male 

16 nobis conveniat hoc corpus ? Nunc de capite, nunc 
' de ventre, nunc de pectore ac faucibus querimur. Alias 

nervi nos, alias pedes vexant, nunc deiectio, nunc 
destillatio, aliquando superest sanguis, aliquando 
deest ; hinc atque illinc temptamur et expellimur ; 
hoc e venire solet in alieno habitantibus. 

17 At nos corpus tam putre sortiti nihilominus aeterna 
proponimus et in quantum potest aetas humana 
protendi, tantum spe occupamus, nulla content! 
pecunia, nulla potentia. Quid hac re fieri impu- 
dentius, quid stultius potest ? Nihil satis est mori- 
turis, immo morientibus ; cotidie enim propius ab 
ultimo stamus, et illo, unde nobis cadendum est, 

18 hora nos omnis inpelht. Vide in quanta caecitate 
mens nostra sit ! Hoc quod futurum dico, cum 

^ incommoda later MSS. ; commoda BA. 

" A chronic disease of Seneca himself. See the auto- 
biographic fragment in Ep. Ixxviii. 1 f. 


only to the mind of God — from whom a part flows 
down even into this heart of a mortal. But this 
heart is never more divine than when it reflects 
upon its mortality, and understands that man was 
born for the purpose of fulfilling his life, and that 
the body is not a permanent dwelling, but a sort of 
inn (with a brief sojourn at that) which is to be left 
behind when one perceives that one is a burden to 
the host. The greatest proof, as I maintain, my 
dear Lucilius, that the soul proceeds fronx loftier 
heights, is if it judges its present situation lowly 
and narrow, and is not afraid to depart. For he 
who remembers whence he has come knows whither 
he is to depart. Do we not see how many dis- 
comforts drive us wild, and how ill-assorted is our 
fellowship with the flesh ? We complain at one 
time of our headaches, at another of our bad 
digestions, at another of our hearts and our throats. 
Sometimes the nerves trouble us, sometimes the 
feet ; now it is diarrhoea, and again it is catarrh " ; 
we are at one time full-blooded, at another 
anaemic ; now this thing troubles us, now that, 
and bids us move away : it is just what happens to 
those who dwell in the house of another. 

But we, to whom such corruptible bodies have 
been allotted, nevertheless set eternity before our 
eyes, and in our hopes grasp at the utmost space of 
time to which the life of man can be extended, 
satisfied with no income and with no influence. 
What can be more shameless or foolish than this ? 
Nothing is enough for us, though we must die some 
day, or rather, are already dying ; for we stand daily 
nearer the brink, and every hour of time thrusts us 
on towards the precipice over which we must fall. 
See how blind our minds are ! What I speak of as 



maxime fit, et pars eius magna iam facta est, nam 
quod viximus. Erramus autem qui ultimum time- 
mus diem, cum tantumdem in mortem singuli 
conferant. Non ille gradus lassitudinem facit, in 
quo deficimus, sed ille profitetur. Ad mortem dies 
extremus pervenit, accedit^ omnis. Carpit nos ilia, 
non corripit. 

Ideo magnus animus conscius sibi melioris naturae 
dat quidem operam, ut in hac statione qua positus 
est, honeste se atque industrie gerat, ceterum nihil 
horum, quae circa sunt, suum iudicat, sed ut com- 

19 modatis utitur, peregrinus et properans. Cum 
aliquem huius videremus constantiae, quidni subiret 
nos species non usitatae indolis ? Utique si banc, 
ut dixi, magnitudinem veram esse ostendebat 
aequalitas.2 Vero tenor permanet, falsa non durant. 
Quidam alternis Vatinii, alternis Catones sunt ; et 
modo parum illis severus est Curius, parum pauper 
Fabricius, parum frugi et contentus vilibus Tubero ; 
modo Licinum divitiis,^ Apicium cenis, Maecena- 

20 tem deliciis provocant. Maximum indicium est malae 
mentis fluctuatio et inter'* simulationem virtutum 
amoremque vitiorum ^ adsidua iactatio. Aliquis ^ 

habebat saepe ducentos, 
Saepe decern servos ; modo reges atque tetrarchas, 
Omnia magna loquens, modo " sit mihi mensa tripes et 

^ accedit later MSS. ; accidit BA. 

^ aequalitas Gronovius ; qualitas BA. 

' Licinum divitiis cod. Guelf. ; linum dividitis BA. 

* et inter cod. Harl. ; cancer BA. 

* amoremque vitiorum Pine, and cod. Harl. ; amorumque 
utiliorum BA. 

* aliquis Buecheler ; is BA ; s. (scilicet) Hense. 

" Seneca is here developing the thought sketched in Ep. 
xii. 6 unus autem dies gradus vitae est, 



in the future is happening at this minute, and a large 
portion of it has already happened ; for it consists 
of our past lives. But we are mistaken in fearing 
the last day, seeing that each day, as it passes, 
counts just as much to the credit of death .« The 
failing step does not produce, it merely announces, 
weariness. The last hour reaches, but every hour 
approaches, death. Death wears us away, but does 
not whirl us away. 

For this reason the noble soul, knowing its better 
nature, while taking care to conduct itself honour- 
ably and seriously at the post of duty where it is 
placed, counts none of these extraneous objects as 
its own, but uses them as if they were a loan, like a 
foreign visitor hastening on his way. When we see 
a person of such steadfastness, how can we help 
being conscious of the image of a nature so 
unusual ? Particularly if, as I remarked, it was 
shown to be true greatness by its consistency. It 
is indeed consistency that abides ; false things do not 
last. Some men are like Vatinius or like Cato by 
turns ; ^ at times they do not think even Curius 
stern enough, or Fabricius poor enough, or Tubero 
sufficiently frugal and contented with simple things ; 
while at other times they vie with Licinus in 
wealth, with Apicius in banqueting, or with 
Maecenas in daintiness. The greatest proof of 
an evil mind is unsteadiness, and continued wavering 
between pretence of virtue and love of vice. 

He'd have sometimes two hundred slaves at hand 
And sometimes ten. He'd speak of kings and grand 
Moguls and naught but greatness. Then he'd say : 
" Give me a three-legged table and a tray 

* For the same contrast cf. Ep. cxviii. 4 (and note). For 
the following names see Index of Proper Names. 


Concha salis puri, toga quae defendere frigus 
Quamvis crassa queat " ; decies centena dedisses 
Huic parco, paucis contento ; quinque diebus 
Nil erat. 

21 Homines^ isti tales sunt, qualem hunc describit 
Horatius Flaccus, numquam eundem, ne similem 
quidem sibi ; adeo in diversum aberrat. Multos 
dixi ? Prope est, ut omnes sint. Nemo non cotidie 
et consilium mutat et votum. Modo uxorem vult 
habere, modo amicam, modo regnare vult, modo id 
agit, ne quis sit officiosior servus, modo dilatat se 
usque ad invidiam, modo subsidit et contrahitur 
infra humilitatem vere iacentium, nunc pecuniam 

22 spargit, nunc rapit. Sic maxime coarguitur animus 
inprudens ; alius prodit atque alius et, quo turpius 
nihil iudico, impar sibi est. Magnam rem puta 
unum hominem agere. Praeter sapientem autem 
nemo unum agit, ceteri multiformes sumus. Modo 
frugi tibi videbimur et graves, modo prodigi et vani. 
Mutamus subinde personam et contrariam ei sumi- 
mus, quam exuimus. Hoc ergo a te exige, ut, 
qualem institueris praestare te, talem usque ad 
exitum serves. Effice ut possis laudari, si minus, 
ut adgnosci. De aliquo, quem here vidisti, merito 
dici potest : " hie qui est ? " Tanta mutatio est. 

^ homines Buecheler ; omnes BA. 

" Horace, Sat. i. 3. 11-17. 


Of good clean salt, and just a coarse-wove gown 
To keep the cold out." If you paid him down 
(So sparing and content !) a million cool, 
In five short days he'd be a penceless fool." 

The men I speak of are of this stamp ; they are 
hke the man whom Horatius Flaccus describes — 
a man never the same, never even Hke himself; 
to such an extent does he wander off into opposites. 
Did I say many are so ? It is the case with 
almost all. Everyone changes his plans and prayers 
day by day. Now he would have a wife, and now 
a mistress ; now he would be king, and again he 
strives to conduct himself so that no slave is more 
cringing ; now he puffs himself up until he becomes 
unpopular ; again, he shrinks and contracts into 
greater humility than those who are really un- 
assuming ; at one time he scatters money, at another 
he steals it. That is how a foolish mind is most 
clearly demonstrated : it shows first in this shape 
and then in that, and is never like itself — which is, 
in my opinion, the most shameful of qualities. Be- 
lieve me, it is a great role — to play the role of one man. 
But nobody can be one person except the wise man ; 
the rest of us often shift our masks. At times you 
will think us thrifty and serious, at other times 
wasteful and idle. We continually change our char- 
acters and play a part contrary to that which we 
have discarded. You should therefore force yourself 
to maintain to the very end of life's drama the char- 
acter which you assumed at the beginning. See to it 
that men be able to praise you ; if not, let them at 
least identify you. Indeed, with regard to the man 
whom you saw but yesterday, the question may 
properly be asked : " Who is he ? " So great a 
change has there been ! Farewell. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Litigabis, ego video, cum tibi hodiernam quae- 
stiunculam, in qua satis diu haesimus, exposuero. 
Iterum enim exclamabis : " hoc quid ad mores ? " 
Sed exclama, dum tibi primum alios opponam, cum 
quibus litiges, Posidonium et Archidemum ; hi iu- 
dicium accipient. Deinde dicam : non quicquid 

2 morale est, mores bonos facit. Aliud ad hominem 
alendum pertinet, aliud ad exercendum, aliud ad 
vestiendum, aliud ad docendum, aliud ad delectan- 
dum. Omnia tamen ad hominem pertinent, etiam 
si non omnia meliorem eum faciunt. Mores '^ alia 
aliter attingunt : quaedam illos corrigunt et ordi- 
nant, quaedam naturam eorum et originem scru- 

3 tantur. Cum quaero,^ quare hominem natura pro- 
duxerit, quare praetulerit animalibus ceteris, longe 
me iudicas mores reliquisse ? Falsum est. Quomodo 
enim scies, qui habendi sint, nisi quid homini sit opti- 
mum, inveneris, nisi naturam eius inspexeris ? Tunc 
demum intelleges, quid faciendum tibi, quid vitandum 
sit, cum didiceris, quid naturae tuae debeas. 

4 " Ego," inquis, " volo discere, quomodo minus 
cupiam, minus timeam. Superstitionem mihi ex- 
cute. Doce leve esse vanumque hoc, quod felicitas 
dicitur, unam illi syllabam facillime accedere." De- 

^ mores later MSS. ; timores BA. 

* quaero add. Schweighaeuser ; quaeritur later MSS. ; 
om. BA. 

" i.e., in addition to myself and confirming my statement. 

* Frag. 17 von Arnim. 

' i.e., felicitas becomes ivfelicitaa. 




You will bring suit against me, I feel sure, when 
I set forth for you to-day's little problem, with 
which we have already fumbled long enough. You 
will cry out again : " What has this to do with 
character ? " Cry out if you like, but let me first 
of all match you with other opponents j** against 
whom you may bring suit — such as Posidonius and 
Archidemus ; ^ these men will stand trial. I sliall 
then go on to say that whatever deals with character 
does not necessarily produce good character. Man 
needs one thing for his food, another for his exercise, 
another for his clothing, another for his instruction, 
and another for his pleasure. Everything, however, 
has reference to naan's needs, although everything 
does not make him better. Character is affected by 
different things in different ways : some things serve 
to correct and regulate character, and others investi- 
gate its nature and origin. And when I seek the 
reason why Nature brought forth man, and why she 
set him above other animals, do you suppose that I 
have left character-study in the rear ? No ; that is 
wrong. For how are you to know what character is 
desirable, unless you have discovered what is best 
suited to man ? Or unless you have studied his 
nature ? You can find out what you should do and 
what you should avoid, only when you have learned 
what you owe to your own nature. 

" I desire," you say, " to learn how I may crave 
less, and fear less. Rid me of my unreasoning beliefs. 
Prove to me that so-called felicity is fickle and 
empty, and that the word easily admits of a syllable's 
increase." <= I shall fulfil your want, encouraging 



siderio tuo satis faciam, et virtutes exhortabor et 
vitia converberabo. Licet aliquis nimium in- 
moderatumque in hac parte me iudicet, non desistam 
persequi nequitiam et adfectus eiFeratissimos in- 
hibere et voluptates ituras in dolorem compescere 
et votis opstrepere. Quidni ? Cum maxima malo- 
rum optaverimus, et ex gratulatione natum sit 
quidquid adloquimur. 

5 Interim permitte mihi ea, quae paulo remotiora 
videntur, excutere. Quaerebamus, an esset omni- 
bus animalibus constitutionis suae sensus ? Esse 
autem ex eo maxime apparet, quod membra apte 
et expedite movent non aliter quam in hoc erudita. 
Nulli non partium suarum agilitas est. Artifex 
instrumenta sua tractat ex facili, rector navis scite ^ 
gubernaculum flectit, pictor colores, quos ad red- 
dendam similitudinem multos variosque ante se 
posuit, celerrime denotat et inter ceram opusque 
facili vultu ac raanu commeat ; sic animal in omnem 

6 usum sui mobilest. Mirari solemus saltandi ^ peritos, 
quod in omnem significationem rerum et adfectuum 
parata illorum est manus, et verborum velocitatem 
gestus adsequitur. Quod illis ars praestat, his 
natura. Nemo aegre moUtur artus suos, nemo in 
usu sui haesitat. Hoc ^ edita protinus faciunt. Cum 
hac scientia prodeunt ; instituta nascuntur. 

7 " Ideo," inquit, " partes suas animalia apte movent, 

^ scite Windhaus ; scit BA. 

* saltandi Gronovius ; satiant BA ; satiant saltandi cod. 

' haesitat. hoc Madvig ; haesit. ad hoc BA. 

" i.e., their physical make-up, the elements of their physical 



your virtues and lashing your vices. People may 
decide that I am too zealous and reckless in this 
particular ; but I shall never cease to hound wicked- 
ness, to check the most unbridled emotions, to soften 
the force of pleasures which will result in pain, and 
to cry down men's prayers. Of course I shall do 
this ; for it is the greatest evils that we have 
prayed for, and from that which has made us give 
thanks comes all that demands consolation. 

Meanwhile, allow me to discuss thoroughly some 
points which may seem now to be rather remote 
from the present inquiry. We were once debating 
whether all animals had any feelings about their 
"constitution."** That this is the case is proved 
particularly by their making motions of such fitness 
and nimbleness that they seem to be trained for the 
purpose. Every being is clever in its own line. The 
skilled workman handles his tools with an ease born 
of experience ; the pilot knows how to steer his ship 
skilfully ; the artist can quickly lay on the colours 
which he has prepared in great variety for the pur- 
pose of rendering the likeness, and passes with ready 
eye and hand from palette to canvas. In the same 
way an animal is agile in all that pertains to the use 
of its body. We are apt to wonder at skilled dancers 
because their gestures are perfectly adapted to the 
meaning of the piece and its accompanying emotions, 
and their movements match the speed of the dialogue. 
But that which art gives to the craftsman, is given to 
the animal by nature. No animal handles its limbs 
with difficulty, no animal is at a loss how to use its 
body. This function they exercise immediately at 
birth. They come into the world with this know- 
ledge ; they are born full-trained. 

But people reply : " The reason why animals are 



quia si aliter moverint, dolorem sensura sunt. Ita, 
ut vos dicitis, coguntur, metusque ilia in rectum, 
non voluntas movet." Quod est falsum. Tarda 
enim sunt, quae necessitate inpelluntur, agilitas 
sponte motis est. Adeo autem non adigit ilia ad 
hoc doloris timor, ut in naturalem motum etiam 

8 dolore prohibente nitantur. Sic infans, qui stare 
meditatur et ferre se adsuescit, simul temptare vires 
suas coepit, cadit et cum fletu totiens resurgit, donee 
se per dolorem ad id, quod natura poscit, exercuit. 
Animalia quaedam tergi durioris inversa tarn diu 
se torquent ac pedes exerunt et obliquant, donee 
ad locum reponantur. Nullum tormentum sentit 
supina testudo,i inquieta est tamen desiderio 
naturalis status nee ante desinit^ quatere se, quam 
in pedes constitit. 

9 Ergo omnibus constitutionis suae sensus est et 
inde membrorum tam expedita tractatio, nee ullum 
maius indicium habemus cum hac illa^ ad vivendum 
venire notitia, quam quod nullum animal ad usum 

10 sui rude est. " Constitutio," inquit, " est, ut vos 

dicitis, principale animi quodam modo se liabens 

erga corpus. Hoc tam perplexum et subtile et 

vobis quoque vix enarrabile quomodo infans intel- 

legit ? Omnia animalia dialectica nasci oportet, ut 

^ supina testudo later MSS. ; supinate studio BA, 

* After desinit Haase removed niti. 

3 iUa later MSS. ; iUnm BA. 

" i.e., the " soul of the world," of which each living soul 
is a part. The Stoics believed that it was situated in the 
heart. Zeno called it riye/iioviKdv, " ruling power " ; while 
the Romans used the term principale or principatus. The 
principle described above is opfii^ (impulse) or t6pos (tension). 


so dexterous in the use of their limbs is that if they 
move them unnaturally, they will feel pain. They 
are compelled to do thus, according to your school, 
and it is fear rather than will-power which moves 
them in the right direction." This idea is wrong. 
Bodies driven by a compelling force move slowly ; 
but those which move of their own accord possess 
alertness. The proof that it is not fear of pain which 
prompts them thus, is, that even when pain checks 
them they struggle to carry out their natural 
motions. Thus the child who is trying to stand and 
is becoming used to carry his own weight, on begin- 
ning to test his strength, falls and rises again and 
again with tears until through painful effort he has 
trained himself to the demands of nature. And 
certain animals with hard shells, when turned on 
their backs, twist and grope with their feet and 
make motions side-ways until they are restored to 
their proper position. The tortoise on his back feels 
no suffering ; but he is restless because he misses 
his natural condition, and does not cease to shake 
himself about until he stands once more upon his 

So all these animals have a consciousness of their 
physical constitution, and for that reason can manage 
their limbs as readily as they do ; nor have we any 
better proof that they come into being equipped 
with this knowledge than the fact that no animal is 
unskilled in the use of its body. But some object 
as follows : " According to your account, one's con- 
stitution consists of a ruling power " in the soul 
which has a certain relation towards the body. But 
how can a child comprehend this intricate and subtle 
principle, which I can scarcely explain even to you ? 
All living creatures should be born logicians, so as to 

VOL. Ill 2d 401 


istam finitionem magnae parti hominum togatorum 
obscuram intellegant." Verum erat quod opponis, 

11 si ego ab animalibus constitutionis finitionem in- 
tellegi dicerem, non ipsam constitutionem. Facilius 
natura intellegitur quam enarratur ; itaque infans 
ille quid sit constitutio non novit, constitutionem 
suam novit. Et quid sit animal, nescit, animal esse 

12 se sentit. Praeterea ipsam constitutionem suam 
crasse intellegit et summatim et obscure. Nos 
quoque animum habere nos scimus ; quid sit ani- 
mus, ubi sit, qualis sit aut unde, nescimus. Qualis 
ad nos^ animi nostri sensus, quamvis naturam eius 
ignoremus ac sedem, talis ad omnia animalia con- 
stitutionis suae sensus est. Necesse est enim id 
sentiant, per quod alia quoque sentiunt, necesse est 
eius sensum habeant, cui parent, a quo reguntur. 

13 Nemo non ex nobis intellegit esse aliquid, quod 
impetus suos moveat ; quid sit illud ignorat. Et 
conatum sibi esse scit ; quis sit aut unde sit, nescit. 
Sic infantibus quoque animalibusque princi]3alis 
partis suae sensus est non satis dilucidus nee ex- 

14 " Dicitis," inquit, " omne animal primum con- 
stitutioni suae conciliari, hominis autem constitu- 
tionem rationalem esse et ideo conciliari hominem 
sibi non tamquam animali, sed tamquam rationali. 
Ea enim parte sibi carus est homo, qua homo est. 
Quomodo ergo infans conciliari constitutioni ratio- 

^ After nos Haase del. pervenerit. 


understand a definition which is obscure to the 
majority of Roman citizens ! " Your objection would 
be true if I spoke of living creatures as understanding 
" a definition of constitution," and not " their actual 
constitution." Nature is easier to understand than 
to explain ; hence, the child of whom we were speak- 
ing does not understand what " constitution " is, but 
understands its own constitution. He does not know 
what " a living creature " is, but he feels that he is 
an animal. Moreover, that very constitution of his 
own he only understands confusedly, cursorily, and 
darkly. We also know that we possess souls, but 
we do not know the essence, the place, the quality, 
or the source, of the soul. Such as is the conscious- 
ness of our souls which we possess, ignorant as we are 
of their nature and position, even so all animals possess 
a consciousness of their own constitutions. For they 
must necessarily feel this, because it is the same 
agency by which they feel other things also ; they 
must necessarily have a feeling of the principle which 
they obey and by which they are controlled. Every- 
one of us understands that there is something which 
stirs his impulses, but he does not know what it is. 
He knows that he has a sense of striving, although he 
does not know what it is or its source. Thus even 
children and animals have a consciousness of their 
primary element, but it is not very clearly outlined 
or portrayed. 

" You maintain, do you," says the objector, " that 
every living thing is at the start adapted to its 
constitution, but that man's constitution is a reason- 
ing one, and hence man is adapted to himself not 
merely as a living, but as a reasoning, being. For 
man is dear to himself in respect of that wherein he 
is a man. How, then, can a child, being not yet 



nali potest, cum rationalis nondum sit ? " Unicui- 

15 que aetati sua constitutio est, alia infanti, alia puero, 
alia seni ; omnes ei constitutioni conciliantur in 
qua sunt. Infans sine dentibus est : huic consti- 
tutioni suae conciliatur. Enati sunt dentes ; huic 
constitutioni conciliatur. Nam et ilia herba, quae 
in segetem frugemque ventura est, aliam con- 
stitutionem habet tenera et vix eminens sulco, aliam, 
cum convaluit et molli quidem culmo, sed quo ferat 
onus suum, constitit, aliam cum flavescit et ad aream 
spectat et spica eius induruit ; in quamcumque con- 
stitutionem venit, eam tuetur, in eam componitur. 

16 Alia est aetas infantis, pueri, adulescentis, senis ; 
ego tamen idem sum, qui et infans fui et puer et 
adulescens. Sic, quamvis alia atque alia cuique con- 
stitutio sit, conciliatio constitutionis suae eadem est. 
Non enim puerum mihi aut iuvenem aut senem, sed 
me natura commendat. Ergo infans ei constitu- 
tioni suae conciliatur, quae tunc infanti est, non 
quae futura iuveni est. Neque enim, si aliquid illi 
maius in quod transeat, restat, non hoc quoque in 

17 quo nascitur, secundum naturam est. Primum sibi 
ipsum concihatur animal, debet enim aliquid esse, 
ad quod alia referantur. Voluptatem peto, cui ? 
Mihi. Ergo mei curam ago. Dolor em refugio, pro 
quo ? Pro me. Ergo mei curam ago. Si omnia 


gifted with reason, adapt himself to a reasoning con- 
stitution ? " But each age has its own constitution, 
different in the case of the child, the boy, and the 
old man ; they are all adapted to the constitu- 
tion wherein they find themselves. The child is 
toothless, and he is fitted to this condition. Then 
his teeth grow, and he is fitted to that condition also. 
Vegetation also, which will develop into grain and 
fruits, has a special constitution when young and 
scarcely peeping over the tops of the furrows, another 
when it is strengthened and stands upon a stalk 
which is soft but strong enough to bear its weight, 
and still another when the colour changes to yellow, 
prophesies threshing-time, and hardens in the ear — 
no matter what may be the constitution into which 
the plant comes, it keeps it, and conforms thereto. 
The periods of infancy, boyhood, youth, and old age, 
are different ; but I, who have been infant, boy, and 
youth, am still the same. Thus, although each has 
at different times a different Constitution, the 
adaptation of each to its constitution is the same. 
For nature does not consign boyhood or youth, or 
old age, to me ; it consigns me to them. Therefore, 
the child is adapted to that constitution which is 
his at the present moment of childhood, not to that 
which will be his in youth. For even if there is in 
store for him any higher phase into which he must 
be changed, the state in which he is born is also 
according to nature. First of all, the living being is 
adapted to itself, for there must be a pattern to which 
all other things may be referred. I seek pleasure ; 
for whom ? For myself. I am therefore looking 
out for myself. I shrink from pain ; on behalf of 
whom ? Myself. Therefore, I am looking out for 
myself. Since I gauge all my actions with reference 



propter curam mei facio, ante omnia est mei cura. 
Haec animalibus inest cunctis nee inseritur, sed in- 

18 Producit fetus suos natura, non abicit. Et quia 
tutela certissima ex proximo est, sibi quisque com- 
missus est. Itaque, ut in prioribus epistulis dixi, 
tenera quoque animalia et materno utero vel ovo^ 
modo effusa, quid sit infestum, ipsa ^ protinus norunt 
et mortifera devitant. Umbram quoque trans- 
volantium reformidant obnoxia avibus rapto viventi- 

Nullum animal ad vitam prodit sine metu mortis. 

19 " Quemadmodum,"inquit," editum animal intellectum 
habere aut salutaris aut mortiferae rei potest ? " 
Primum quaeritur, an intellegat, non quemad- 
modum intellegat. Esse autem illis intellectum ex 
eo apparet, quod nihil amplius, si intellexerint, 
facient. Quid est, quare pavonem, quare anserem 
gallina non fugiat, at tanto minorem et ne notum 
quidem sibi accipitrem ? Quare puUi faelem timeant, 
canem non timeant ? Apparet illis inesse nocituri 
scientiam non experimento collectam ; nam ante- 

20 quam possint experisci, cavent.^ Deinde ne hoc 
casu existimes fieri, nee metuunt alia quam debent 
nee umquam obliviscuntur huius tutelae et dili- 

^ ovo Bartsch ; quo BA. 
^ ipsa Hense ; ipsi or ipsis MSS. 

^ experisci cavent Buecheler ; experisciavent, experiri 
cavent, or experis cavent MSS. 

" Seneca is both sound and modern in his account of 
animal " intelligence." It is instinct, due to sensory-motor 
reactions, and depending largely upon type heredity. 


to my own welfare, I am looking out for myself 
before all else. This quality exists in all living 
beings — not engrafted but inborn. 

Nature brings up her own offspring and does not 
cast them away ; and because the most assured 
security is that which is nearest, every man has been 
entrusted to his own self. Therefore, as I have 
remarked in the course of my previous correspond- 
ence, even young animals, on issuing from the 
mother's womb or from the egg, know at once of 
their own accord what is harmful for them, and 
avoid death-dealing things .« They even shrink 
when they notice the shadow of birds of prey which 
flit overhead. 

No animal, when it enters upon life, is free from 
the fear of death. People may ask : " How can an 
animal at birth have an understanding of things 
wholesome or destructive ? " The first question, 
however, is whether it can have such understanding, 
and not how it can understand. And it is clear that 
they have such understanding from the fact that, 
even if you add understanding, they will act no more 
adequately than they did in the first place. Why 
should the hen show no fear of the peacock or the 
goose, and yet run from the hawk, which is a so 
much smaller animal not even familiar to the hen ? 
Why should young chickens fear a cat and not a 
dog ? These fowls clearly have a presentiment of 
harm — one not based on actual experiments ; for 
they avoid a thing before they can possibly have 
experience of it. Furthermore, in order that you 
may not suppose this to be the result of chance, 
they do not shrink from certain other things 
which you would expect them to fear, nor do 
they ever forget vigilance and care in this regard ; 



gentiae ; aequalis est illis a pernicioso fuga. Praeter- 
ea non fiunt timidiora vivendo. 

Ex quo quidem apparet non usu ilia in hoc per- 
venire, sed naturali amore salutis suae. Et tardum 
est et varium, quod usus docet ; quicquid natura 

21 tradit, et aequale omnibus est et statim. Si tamen 
exigis, dicam quomodo omne animal perniciosa in- 
tellegere conatur ? Sentit se came constare ; ita- 
que sentit, quid sit, quo secari caro, quo uri, quo 
opteri possit, quae sint animalia armata ad nocen- 
dum ; horum speciem trahit inimicam et hostilem. 
Inter se ista coniuncta sunt ; simul enim conciliatur 
saluti suae quidque et iuvantia^ petit, laesura for- 
midat. NatUrales ad utilia impetus, naturales a 
contrariis aspernationes sunt ; sine ulla cogitatione, 
quae hoc dictet, sine consilio fit, quidquid natura 

22 Non vides, quanta sit subtilitas apibus ad fin- 
genda domicilia, quanta dividua laboris obeundi 
undique ^ concordia ? Non vides, quam nulli mor- 
talium imitabilis ilia aranei textura, quanti opens 
sit fila disponere, alia in rectum inmissa firmament! 
loco, alia in orbem currentia ex denso rara, qua 
minora animalia, in quorum perniciem^ ilia ten- 

23 duntur, velut retibus implicata teneantur ? Nascitur 

^ iuvantia Haase ; iuvant ilia Bp ; vivant ilia A. 
^ obeundi undique Buecheler ; obeundi{que) MSS. 
* pemiciem later MSS. ; praetium Bp ; prium A. 



they all possess equally the faculty of avoiding what 
is destructive. Besides, their fear does not grow as 
their lives lengthen. 

Hence indeed it is evident that these animals have 
not reached such a condition through experience ; it 
is because of an inborn desire for self-preservation. 
The teachings of experience are slow and irregular ; 
but whatever Nature communicates belongs equally 
to everyone, and comes immediately. If, however, 
you require an explanation, shall I tell you how it is 
that every living thing tries to understand that 
which is harmful ? It feels that it is constructed of 
flesh ; and so it perceives to what an extent flesh 
may be cut or burned or crushed, and what animals 
are equipped with the power of doing this damage ; 
it is of animals of this sort that it derives an un- 
favourable and hostile idea. These tendencies are 
closely connected ; for each animal at the same time 
consults its own safety, seeking that which helps it, 
and shrinks from that which will harm it. Impulses 
towards useful objects, and revulsion from the oppo- 
site, are according to nature ; without any reflection 
to prompt the idea, and without any advice, whatever 
Nature has prescribed, is done. 

Do you not see how skillful bees are in building 
their cells ? How completely harmonious in sharing 
and enduring toil ? Do you not see how the spider 
weaves a web so subtle that man's hand cannot 
imitate it ; and what a task it is to arrange the 
threads, some directed straight towards the centre, 
for the sake of making the web solid, and others 
running in circles and lessening in thickness^ — for 
the purpose of tangling and catching in a sort of 
net the smaller insects for whose ruin the spider 
spreads the web ? This art is born, not taught ; 



ars ista, non discitur. Itaque nullum est animal 
altero doctius. Videbis araneorum pares telas, par 
in favis angulorum omnium foramen. Incertum est 
et inaequabile, quidquid ars tradit ; ex aequo ^ 
venit, quod natura distribuit. Haec nihil magis 
quam tutelam sui et eius peritiam tradidit, ideoque 
24 etiam simul incipiunt et discere et vivere. Nee est 
mirum cum eo nasci ilia, sine quo frustra nascerentur. 
Primum hoc instrumentum in ilia natura contulit ad 
permanendum,2 conciliationem et caritatem sui. 
Non poterant salva esse, nisi vellent. Nec^ hoc 
per se profuturum erat, sed sine hoc nulla res pro- 
fuisset. In^ nullo deprendes vilitatem sui, ne 
neglegentiam quidem. Tacitis quoque et briitis, 
quamquam in cetera torpeant, ad vivendum sol- 
lertia est. Videbis, quae aliis inutilia sunt, sibi ipsa 
non deesse. Vale. 


Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

Detrimentum iam dies sensit. Resiluit aliquan- 
tum, ita tamen ut liberale adhuc spatium sit, si 
quis cum ipso, ut ita dicam, die surgat. Officiosior 
meliorque, si quis ilium exspectat et lucem primam 
excipit ^ ; turpis, qui alto sole semisomnus iacet, 
cuius vigilia medio die incipit ; et adhuc multis hoc 

^ ex aequo Pine. ; ex equo Harl. ; et quo BA^p. 

^ After permanendum Bartsch del. in. 

^ After nee Hense del. non. * Before in Bartsch del. sfid. 

* excipit Gruter ; exuit BAp. 

" A theme developed by Cicero (De fin. iii. 16) : placet 
. . . simul atque natum, sit animal . . . , ipsum sibi con- 
ciliari et commendari ad se conservandum. 



and for this reason no animal is more skilled than 
any other. You will notice that all spider-webs are 
equally fine, and that the openings in all honeycomb 
cells are identical in shape. Whatever art communi- 
cates is uncertain and uneven ; but Nature's assign- 
ments are always uniform. Nature has communi- 
cated nothing except the duty of taking care of 
themselves and the skill to do so ; that is why 
living and learning begin at the same time. No 
wonder that living things are born with a gift 
whose absence would make birth useless. This is 
the first equipment that Nature granted them for 
the maintenance of their existence — the quality of 
adaptability and self-love. They could not survive 
except by desiring to do so. Nor would this desire 
alone have made them prosper, but without it nothing 
could have prospered. In no animal can you observe 
any low esteem, or even any carelessness, of self. 
Dumb beasts, sluggish in other respects, are clever 
at living. So you will see that creatures which are 
useless to others are alert for their own preservation." 


The day has already begun to lessen. It has 
shrunk considerably, but yet will still allow a goodly 
space of time if one rises, so to speak, with the day 
itself. We are more industrious, and we are better 
men if we anticipate the day and welcome the dawn ; 
but we are base churls if we lie dozing when the sun 
is high in the heavens, or if we wake up only when 
noon arrives ; and even then to many it seems not yet 



2 antelucanum est. Sunt qui officia lucis noctisque 
perverterint nee ante diducant oculos hestema 
graves crapula quam adpetere nox coepit. Qualis 
illorum condicio dicitur, quos natura, ut ait Vergilius, 
sedibus nostris subditos e contrario posuit, 

Nosque ubi primus equis Oriens adflavit anhelis, 
Illis sera rubens accendit lumina Vesper ; 

talis horum contraria omnibus non regio, sed vita 
est. Sunt quidam in eadem urbe antipodes, qui, 
ut M. Cato ait, nee orientem umquam solem viderunt 

3 nee occidentem. Hos tu existimas scire quemad- 
modum vivendum sit, qui nesciunt quando ? Et 
hi mortem timent, in quam se vivi condiderunt ? 
Tarn infausti quam nocturnae aves sunt. Licet in 
vino unguentoque tenebras suas exigant, licet epulis 
et quidem in multa fericula^ discoctis totum per- 
versae vigiliae tempus educant, non convivantur, 
sed iusta sibi faciunt. Mortuis certe interdiu 

At mehercules nuUus agenti dies longus est. 
Extendamus vitam ; huius et officium et argumen- 
tum actus est. Circumscribatur nox, et aliquid ex 

4 ilia in diem transferatur. Aves, quae conviviis 
conparantur, ut inmotae facile pinguescant, in 
obscuro continentur ; ita sine ulla exercitatione 
iacentibus tumor ^ pigrum corpus invadit, et superba 
umbra iners sagina subcrescit. At istorum cor- 

^ fericula Turnebus ; pericula BAp. 
* tumor later MSS. ; timor BAp. 

" Vergil, Oeorg. i. 250 f. 

** Cato, Frag. p. 110 Jordan. 

' i.e., owls, of ill omen. 

"* In connexion with the Parentalia, Feb. 13-21, and at 
other anniversary observations, the ceremonies were held in 
the daytime. 



dawn. Some have reversed the functions of hght and 
darkness ; they open eyes sodden w^ith yesterday's 
debauch only at the approach of night. It is just 
hke the condition of those peoples whom, according 
to Vergil, Nature has hidden away and placed in an 
abode directly opposite to our own : 

When in our face the Dawn with panting steeds 
Breathes down, for them the ruddy evening kindles 
Her late-lit fires." 

It is not the country of these men, so much as it is 
their life, that is " directly opposite " to our own. 
There may be Antipodes dwelling in this same city 
of ours who, in Cato's words,^ " have never seen the 
sun rise or set." Do you think that these men know 
how to live, if they do not know when to live ? Do 
these men fear death, if they have buried themselves 
alive ? They are as weird as the birds of night." 
Although they pass their hours of darkness amid 
wine and perfumes, although they spend the whole 
extent of their unnatural waking hours in eating 
dinners — and those too cooked separately to make 
up many courses — they are not really banqueting ; 
they are conducting their own funeral services. And 
the dead at least have their banquets by daylight .'* 

But indeed to one who is active no day is long. 
So let us lengthen our lives ; for the duty and the 
proof of life consist in action. Cut short the night ; 
use some of it for the day's business. Birds that are 
being prepared for the banquet, that they may be 
easily fattened through lack of exercise, are kept in 
darkness ; and similarly, if men vegetate without 
physical activity, their idle bodies are overwhelmed 
with flesh, and in their self-satisfied retirement the fat 
of indolence grows upon them. Moreover, the bodies 
of those who have sworn allegiance to the hours of 



pora, qui se tenebris dicaverunt, foeda visuntur. 
Quippe suspectior illis quam morbo pallentibus color 
est, languid! et evanidi albent, et in vivis caro morti- 
cina est. Hoc tamen minimum in illis malorum 
dixerim. Quanto plus tenebrarum in animo est ! 
lUe in se stupet, ille caUgat, invidet caecis. Quis 
umquam oculos tenebrarum causa habuit ? 

5 Interrogas, quomodo haec animo pravitas fiat 
aversandi diem et totam vitam in noctem trans- 
ferendi ? Omnia vitia contra naturam pugnant, 
omnia debitum ordinem deserunt. Hoc est luxu- 
riae propositum, gaudere perversis nee tantum 
discedere a recto, sed quam longissime abire, deinde 

6 etiam e contrario stare. Non videntur tibi contra 
naturam vivere qui ieiuni ^ bibunt, qui vinum re- 
cipiunt inanibus venis et ad cibum ebrii transeunt ? 
Atqui frequens hoc adulescentium vitium est, qui 
vires excolunt, ut in ipso paene balinei limine inter 
nudos bibant, immo potent et sudorem, quern move- 
runt potionibus crebris ac ferventibus, subinde de- 
stringant. Post prandium aut cenam bibere vul- 
gare est ; hoc patres familiae rustici faciunt et verae 
voluptatis ignari. Merum illud delectat, quod non 
innatat cibo, quod libere penetrat ad nervos ; ilia 
ebrietas iuvat, quae in vacuum venit. 

7 Non videntur tibi contra naturam vivere qui 
commutant cum feminis vestem ? Non vivunt 

^ qui ieiuni Pine, and cod. Harl. ; ieiuni BAp. 

" A vice which Seneca especially abhors ; cf. Ep. xv. 3 
multum potionis altius ieiunio iturae. 

' By wearing silk gowns of transparent material. 


darkness have a loathsome appearance. Their com- 
plexions are more alarming than those of anaemic 
invalids ; they are lackadaisical and flabby with 
dropsy ; though still alive, they are already carrion. 
But this, to my thinking, would be among the least of 
their evils. How much more darkness there is in their 
souls ! Such a man is internally dazed ; his vision 
is darkened ; he envies the blind. And what man 
ever had eyes for the purpose of seeing in the dark ? 

You ask me how this depravity comes upon the 
soul — this habit of reversing the daylight and giving 
over one's whole existence to the night ? All vices 
rebel against Nature ; they all abandon the ap- 
pointed order. It is the motto of luxury to enjoy 
what is unusual, and not only to depart from that 
which is right, but to leave it as far behind as possible, 
and finally even take a stand in opposition thereto. 
Do you not believe that men live contrary to Nature 
who drink fasting," who take wine into empty veins, 
and pass to their food in a state of intoxication ? 
And yet this is one of youth's popular vices — to 
perfect their strength in order to drink on the very 
threshold of the bath, amid the unclad bathers ; nay 
even to soak in wine and then immediately to rub off 
the sweat which they have promoted by many a hot 
glass of liquor ! To them, a glass after lunch or one 
after dinner is bourgeois ; it is what the country 
squires do, who are not connoisseurs in pleasure. 
This unmixed wine delights them just because 
there is 'lio food to float in it, because it readily 
makes its way into their muscles ; this boozing 
pleases them just because the stomach is empty. 

Do you not believe that men live contrary to 
Nature who exchange the fashion of their attire with 
women ? ^ Do not men live contrary to Nature who 



contra naturam qui spectant, ut pueritia splendeat 
tempore alieno ? Quid fieri crudelius vel miserius 
potest ? Numquam vir erit, ut diu virum pati 
possit ? Et cum ilium contumeliae sexus eripuisse 

8 debuerat, non ne aetas quidem eripiet ? Non 
vivunt contra naturam qui hieme concupiscunt 
rosam fomentoque aquarum calentium et calorum 
apta mutatione bruma lilium,^ florem vernum, 
exprimunt ^ ? Non vivunt contra naturam ^ qui 
pomaria in summis turribus serunt ? Quorum silvae 
in tectis domuum ac fastigiis nutant,* inde ortis 
radicibus quo inprobe cacumina egissent ? Non 
vivunt contra naturam qui fundamenta thermarum in 
mari iaciunt et delicate natare ipsi sibi non ^ videntur, 
nisi calentia stagna fluctu ac tempestate feriantur ? 

9 Cum instituerunt omnia contra naturae consue- 
tudinem velle, novissime in totum ab ilia desuescunt. 
" Lucet : somni tempus est. Quies est : nunc 
exerceamur, nunc gestemur, nunc prandeamus. 
lam lux propius accedit ; tempus est cenae. Non 
oportet id facere, quod populus. Res sordida est 
trita ac vulgari via vivere. Dies publicus relin- 
quatur : proprium ^ nobis ac peculiare mane fiat." 

10 Isti vero mihi defunctorum loco sunt. Quantulum 
enim a funere absunt et quidem acerbo, qui ad faces 
et cereos vivunt ? Hanc vitam agere eodem tem- 

^ bruma lilium Pine. ; brumalium BAp. 

^ exprimunt later MSS. ; primaint BA ; prim,unt p. 

* contra naturam, later MSS. ; conaturam BAp. 

* nutant later MSS. ; mutant BAp. 

* non add. later MSS. 

* proprium later MSS. ; proprius or propius BAp. 

" Not literally translated. For the same thought see 
Ep. xlvii. 7, etc. 



endeavour to look fresh and boyish at an age un- 
suitable for such an attempt ? What could be more 
cruel or more wretched ? Cannot time and man's 
estate ever carry such a person beyond an artificial 
boyhood ? " Do not men live contrary to Nature 
who crave roses in winter, or seek to raise a spring 
flower like the lily by means of hot-water heaters 
and artificial changes of temperature ? Do not men 
live contrary to Nature who grow fruit-trees on the 
top of a wall ? Or raise waving forests upon the 
roofs and battlements of their houses — the roots 
starting at a point to which it would be outlandish 
for the tree-tops to reach ? Do not men live con- 
trary to Nature who lay the foundations of bath- 
rooms in the sea and do not imagine that they can 
enjoy their swim unless the heated pool is lashed as 
with the waves of a storm ? 

When men have begun to desire all things in 
opposition to the ways of Nature, they end by entirely 
abandoning the ways of Nature. They cry : " It is 
daytime : let us go to sleep ! It is the time when 
men rest : now for exercise, now for our drive, now 
for our lunch ! Lo, the dawn approaches : it is 
dinner-time ! We should not do as mankind do. It 
is low and mean to live in the usual and conventional 
way. Let us abandon the ordinary sort of day. Let 
us have a morning that is a special feature of ours, 
peculiar to ourselves ! " Such men are, in my 
opinion, as good as dead. Are they not all but 
present at a funeral — and before their time too — 
when they live amid torches and tapers ? * I re- 
member that this sort of life was very fashionable at 

* The symbols of a Roman funeral. For the same prac- 
tice, purposely performed, see Ep. xii, 8 (and the note of 
W. C. Summers), 

VOL. Ill 2 E 417 


pore multos meminimus, inter quos et Acilium 
Butam, praetorium, cui post patrimonium ingens 
consumptum Tiberius paupertatem confitenti " sero," 

11 inquit, " experrectus es." Recitabat Montanus 
Julius carmen, tolerabilis poeta et amicitia Tiberi 
notus et frigore. Ortus et occasus libentissime in- 
serebat. Itaque cum indignaretur quidam ilium 
toto die recitasse et negaret accedendum ad recita- 
tiones eius, Natta Pinarius ait : " Numquam possum 
liberalius agere : paratus sum ilium audire ab ortu 

12 ad occasum." Cum hos versus recitasset : 

Incipit ardentes Phoebus producere flammas, 
Spargere se ^ rubicunda dies, iam tristis hirundo 
Argutis reditura cibos inmittere * nidis 
Incipit et molli partitos ore ministrat. 

Varus eques Romanus, M. Vinicii comes, cenarum 
bonarum adsectator, quas improbitate linguae mere- 
batur, exclamavit : " incipit Butadormire." Deinde 

13 cum subinde recitasset : 

lam sua pastores stabulis armenta locarunt, 
lam dare sopitis nox pigra silentia terris 

idem Varus inquit : " Quid dicis ? Iam nox est ? 
Ibo et Butam salutabo." Nihil erat notius hac eius 
vita in contrarium circumacta ; quam, ut dixi, multi 

^ se later MSS. ; om'; BA. 
* inmittere later MSS. ; mittere BAp. 

" Called by Tacitus, Ann. iv. 34, a Seiani client. 

* Baehrens, Frag. Poet. Rom. p. 355. 

* i.e., Procne, in the well-known nightingale myth. 

'' Son of the P. Vinicius ridiculed in Ep. xl. 9. He was 
husband of Julia, youngest daughter of Germanicus, and 
was poisoned by Messalina. 



one time : among such men as Acilius Buta, a person 
of praetorian rank, who ran through a tremendous 
estate and on confessing his bankruptcy to Tiberius, 
received the answer : " You have waked up too 
late ! " Juhus Montanus was once reading a poem 
aloud ; he was a middling good poet, noted for his 
friendship with Tiberius, as well as his fall from 
favour. He always used to fill his poems with a 
generous sprinkling of sunrises and sunsets. Hence, 
when a certain person was complaining that Montanus 
had read all day long, and declared that no man 
should attend any of his readings, Natta Pinarius " 
remarked : "I couldn't make a fairer bargain than 
this : I am ready to listen to him from sunrise to 
sunset ! " Montanus was reading, and had reached 
the words : ^ 

'Gins the bright morning to spread forth his flames clear- 
burning ; the red dawn 

Scatters its light ; and the sad-eyed swallow " returns to 
her nestlings, 

Bringing the chatterers' food, and with sweet bill sharing 
and serving. 

Then Varus, a Roman knight, the hanger-on of 
Marcus Vinicius,** and a sponger at elegant dinners 
which he earned by his degenerate wit, shouted : 
" Bed-time for Buta ! " And later, when Montanus 
declaimed : 

Lo, now the shepherds have folded their flocks, and the 

slow-moving darkness 
'Gins to spread silence o'er lands that are drowsily lulled 

into slumber, 

this same Varus remarked : " What ? Night already ? 
I'll go and pay my morning call on Buta ! " You 
see, nothing was more notorious tlian Buta's upside- 
down manner of life. But this life, as I said, was 



14 eodem tempore egerunt. Causa autem est ita 
Vivendi quibusdam, non quia aliquid existiment 
noctem ipsam habere iucundius, sed quia nihil iuvat 
solitum,^ et gravis malae conscientiae lux est, et 
omnia concupiscenti aut contemnenti, prout magno 
aut parvo empta sunt, fastidio est lumen gratuitum. 
Praeterea luxuriosi vitam suam esse in sermonibus, 
dum vivunt, volunt ; nam si tacetur, perdere se 
putant operam. Itaque male habent, quotiens 
faciunt ^ quod excidat fama. 

Multi bona comedunt, multi amicas habent. Ut 
inter istos nomen invenias, opus est non tantum 
luxuriosam rem, sed notabilem facere ; in tam oc- 
cupata civitate fabulas vulgaris nequitia non invenit, 

15 Pedonem Albinovanum narrantem audieramus, erat 
autem fabulator elegantissimus, habitasse se supra 
domum S. Papini. Is erat ex hac turba lucifugarum. 
" Audio," inquit, " circa horam tertiam noctis flagel- 
lorum sonum. Quaero, quid faciat ; dicitur rationes 
accipere. Audio circa horam sextam noctis clamo- 
rem concitatum ; quaero, quid sit ; dicitur vocem 
exercere. Quaero circa horam octavam noctis, quid 

16 sibi ille sonus rotarum velit ; gestari dicitur. Circa 
lucem discurritur, pueri vocantur, cellarii, coqui 
tumultuantur. Quaero, quid sit ; dicitur mulsum et 
halicam poposcisse, a balneo exisse. Excedebat," 

^ solitum later MSS. ; ohlitum BAp. 
^ male habent quociens faciunt later MSS. and cod. Harl. ; 
aliquotiens faciunt BAp. 

" i.e., is punishing his slaves for errors in the day's work. 


fashionable at one time. And the reason why some 
men hve thus is not because they think that night 
in itself offers any greater attractions, but because 
that which is normal gives them no particular 
pleasure ; hght being a bitter enemy of the evil 
conscience, and, when one craves or scorns all things 
in proportion as they have cost one much or little, 
illumination for which one does not pay is an object 
of contempt. Moreover, the luxurious person wishes 
to be an object of gossip his whole life ; if people 
are silent about him, he thinks that he is wasting his 
time. Hence he is uncomfortable whenever any of 
his actions escape notoriety. 

Many men eat up their property, and many men 
keep mistresses. If you would win a reputation 
among such persons, you must make your programme 
not only one of luxury but one of notoriety ; for in 
such a busy community wickedness does not dis- 
cover the ordinary sort of scandal. I heard Pedo 
Albinovanus, that most attractive story-teller, speak- 
ing of his residence above the town-house of Sextus 
Papinius. Papinius belonged to the tribe of those 
who shun the light. " About nine o'clock at night 
I hear the sound of whips. I ask what is going on, 
and they tell me that Papinius is going over his 
accounts." About twelve there is a strenuous shout- 
ing ; I ask what the matter is, and they say he is 
exercising his voice. About two a.m. I ask the 
significance of the sound of wheels ; they tell me 
that he is off for a drive. And at dawn there is a 
tremendous flurry — calling of slaves and butlers, 
and pandemonium among the cooks. I ask the 
meaning of this also, and they tell me that he has 
called for his cordial and his appetizer, after leaving 
the bath. His dinner," said Pedo, " never went 



inquit, " huius diem cena minime, valde enim fruga- 
liter vivebat ; nihil consumebat nisi noctem, Itaque 
credendo dicentibus ilium quibusdam avarum et 
sordidum vos," inquit, " ilium et lychnobium dicetis." 

17 Non debes admirari, si tantas invenis vitiorum 
proprietates ; varia sunt, innumerabiles habent 
facies, comprendi eorum genera non possunt. Sim- 
plex recti cura est, multiplex pravi, et quantumvis 
novas declinationes capit. Idem moribus evenit ; 
naturam sequentium faeiles sunt, soluti sunt, exiguas 
difFerentias habent ; his distorti plurimum et omni- 

18 bus et inter se dissident. Causa tamen praecipua 
mihi videtur huius morbi vitae communis fastidium. 
Quomodo cultu se a ceteris distinguunt, quomodo 
elegantia cenarum, munditiis vehiculorum, sic se ^ 
volunt separare etiam temporum dispositione.^ 
Nolunt solita peccare,^ quibus peccandi praemium 
infamia est. Hanc petunt omnes isti, qui, ut ita 
dicam, retro * vivunt. 

19 Ideo, Lucili, tenenda nobis via est, quam natura 
praescripsit, nee ab ilia declinandum ; illam se- 
quentibus omnia facilia, expedita sunt, contra illam 
nitentibus non alia vita est quam contra aquam 
remigantibus. Vale. 

^ se add. Hense. 

^ dispositione Muretus ; dispositiones MSS. 

* peccare Erasmus ; spectare MSS. 

* retro Pincianus ; recto MSS. 

" i.e., balancing the custom of the ordinary Roman, whose 
dinner never continued beyond nightfall. 

'' " ' A liver by candle-light,' with a play on the word 
\lxvosy ' luxurious ' " (Summers). 



beyond the day,'' for he lived very sparingly ; 
he was lavish with nothing but the night. Accord- 
ingly, if you believe those who call him tight-fisted 
and mean, you will call him also a * slave of the 
lamp.' "^ 

You should not be surprised at finding so many 
special manifestations of the vices ; for vices vary, 
and there are countless phases of them, nor can all 
their various kinds be classified. The method of 
maintaining righteousness is simple ; the method of 
maintaining wickedness is complicated, and has in- 
finite opportunity to swerve. And the same holds 
true of character ; if you follow nature, character is 
easy to manage, free, and with very slight shades of 
difference ; but the sort of person I have mentioned 
possesses badly warped character, out of harmony 
with all things, including himself. The chief cause, 
however, of this disease seems to me to be a 
squeamish revolt from the normal existence. Just 
as such persons mark themselves off from others in 
their dress, or in the elaborate arrangement of their 
dinners, or in the elegance of their carriages ; even 
so they desire to make themselves peculiar by their 
way of dividing up the hours of their day. They are 
unwilling to be wicked in the conventional way, 
because notoriety is the reward of their sort of 
wickedness. Notoriety is what all such men seek — 
men who are, so to speak, living backwards. 

For this reason, Lucilius, let us keep to the way 
which Nature has mapped out for us, and let us not 
swerve therefrom. If we follow Nature, all is easy 
and unobstructed ; but if we combat Nature, our life 
differs not a whit from that of men who row against 
the current. Farewell. 




Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

1 Itinere confectus incommodo magis quam longo 
in Albanum meum multa nocte perveni ; nihil 
habeo parati nisi me. Itaque in lectulo lassitudinem 
pono, hanc coci ac pistoris moram boni consulo. 
Mecum enim de hoc ipso loquor, quam nihil sit 
grave, quod leviter excipias/ indignandum nihil 

2 nisi ^ ipse indignando adstruas. Non habet panem 
meus ^ pistor ; sed habet vilicus, sed habet atriensis, 
sed habet colonus. " Malum panem " inquis. Ex- 
specta : bonus fiet. Etiam ilium tibi tenerum et 
siligineum fames reddet. Ideo non est ante eden- 
dum quam ilia imperat ; exspectabo ergo nee ante 
edam quam aut bonum panem habere coepero aut 

3 fastidire desiero. Necessarium est parvo adsue- 
scere : multae difficultates locorum, multae tem- 
porum etiam locupletibus et instructis ad volupta- 
tem* prohibentes^ occurrent. Quidquid vult ha- 
bere nemo potest, illud potest, nolle quod non hab(it, 
rebus oblatis hilaris uti. Magna pars libertatis est 
bene moratus venter et contumeliae patiens, 

4 Aestimari non potest, quantam voluptatem capiam 
ex eo, quod lassitudo mea sibi ipsa adsuescit ; non 
unctores, non balineum, non uUum aliud remedium 

^ After excipias, quod del. by Buecheler. 

^ nisi later MSS. ; om. BA. 

^ meus later MSS. ; meum BA. 

* ad voluptatem. P. Thomas ; advohus optantem, BA. 

* prohibentes Pine. ; prohihent et BA. 




Wearied with the discomfort rather than with the 
length of my journey, I have reached my Alban villa 
late at night, and I find nothing in readiness except 
myself. So I am getting rid of fatigue at my 
writing-table : I derive some good from this tardiness 
on the part of my cook and my baker. For I am 
communing with myself on this very topic — that 
nothing is heavy if one accepts it with a light heart, 
and that nothing need provoke one's anger if one 
does not add to one's pile of troubles by getting 
angry. My baker is out of bread ; but the overseer, 
or the house-steward, or one of my tenants can 
supply me therewith. " Bad bread ! " you say. But 
just wait for it ; it will become good. Hunger will 
make even such bread delicate and of the finest 
flavour. For that reason I must not eat until hunger 
bids me ; so I shall wait and shall not eat until I can 
either get good bread or else cease to be squeamish 
about it. It is necessary that one grow accustomed 
to slender fare : because there are many problems 
of time and place which will cross the path even of 
the rich man and one equipped for pleasure, and 
bring him up with a round turn. To have whatsoever 
he wishes is in no man's power ; it is in his power not 
to wish for what he has not, but cheerfully to employ 
what comes to him. A great step towards in- 
dependence is a good-humoured stomach, one that 
is willing to endure rough treatment. 

You cannot imagine how much pleasure I derive 
from the fact that my weariness is becoming recon- 
ciled to itself ; I am asking for no slaves to rub me 



quam temporis quaero. Nam quod labor contraxit, 
quies tollit. Haec qualiscumque cena aditiali ^ 

5 iucundior erit. Aliquod enim experimentum animi 
sumpsi subito ; hoc enim est simplicius et verius. 
Nam ubi se praeparavit et indixit sibi patientiam, 
non aeque apparet, quantum habeat verae firmitatis ; 
ilia sunt certissima argumenta, quae ex tempore 
dedit, si non tantum aequus molestias,^ sed placidus 
aspexit ; si non excanduit, non litigavit ; si quod 
dari deberet ipse sibi non desiderando supplevit et 
cogitavit aliquid consuetudini suae, sibi nihil deesse. 

6 Multa quam supervacua essent, non intelleximus, 
nisi deesse coeperunt ; utebamur enim illis, non 
quia debebamus, sed quia habebamus. Quam multa 
autem paramus, quia alii paraverunt, quia apud 
plerosque sunt ! Inter causas malorum nostrorum 
est, quod vivimus ad exempla, nee ratione conponi- 
mur sed consuetudine abducimur. 

Quod, si pauci facerent, nollemus imitari, cum 
plures facere coeperunt, quasi honestius sit, quia 
frequentius, sequimur. Et recti ^ apud nos locum 

7 tenet error, ubi publicus factus est. Omnes iam sic 
peregrinantur, ut illos Numidarum praecurrat equi- 
tatus, ut agmen cursorum antecedat ; turpe est 
nullos esse, qui occurrentis via deiciant, aut * qui 

^ aditiali Erasmus ; adiali BA. 
* molestias Windhsius ; 7nolesta later MSS. ; modestia^A. 
* recti later MSS. ; retu BA. 
* deiciant aut later MSS. ; deiciantur ut BA. 

" i.e., a dinner given by an official when he entered upon 
{adeo) his office. 


down, no bath, and no other restorative except time. 
For that which toil has accumulated, rest can lighten. 
This repast, whatever it may be, will give me more 
pleasure than an inaugural banquet." For I have 
made trial of my spirit on a sudden — a simpler and 
a truer test. Indeed, when a man has made prepara- 
tions and given himself a formal summons to be 
patient, it is not equally clear just how much real 
strength of mind he possesses ; the surest proofs are 
those which one exhibits oiF-hand, viewing one's 
own troubles not only fairly but calmly, not flying 
into fits of temper or wordy wranglings, supplying 
one's own needs by not craving something which 
was really due, and reflecting that our habits may 
be unsatisfied, but never our own real selves. How 
many things are superfluous we fail to realize until 
they begin to be wanting ; we merely used them 
not because we needed them but because we had 
them. And how much do we acquire simply because 
our neighbours have acquired such things, or because 
most men possess them ! Many of our troubles may 
be explained from the fact that we live according to 
a pattern, and, instead of arranging our lives accord- 
ing to reason, are led astray by convention. 

There are things which, if done by the few, we 
should refuse to imitate ; yet when the majority 
have begun to do them, we follow along — ^just as 
if anything were more honourable because it is 
more frequent ! Furthermore, wrong views, when 
they have become prevalent, reach, in our eyes, the 
standard of righteousness . Everyone now travels with 
Numidian outriders preceding him, with a troop of 
slave-runners to clear the way ; we deem it dis- 
graceful to have no attendants who will elbow crowds 
from the road, or will prove, by a great cloud of dust, 



honestum hominem venire magno pulvere ostendant. 
Omnes iam mulos habent, qui crustallina et murrina 
et caelata magnorum artificum manu portent ; 
turpe est videri eas te habere sarcinas totas, quae 
e tuto 1 concuti possint. Omnium paedagogia ob- 
lita facie vehuntur, ne sol, ne frigus teneram cutem 
laedat ; turpe est neminem esse in comitatu tuo ^ 
puerorum, cuius sana facies medicamentum de- 

8 Horum omnium sermo vitandus est : hi sunt, qui 
vitia tradunt et alio aliunde transerunt.^ Pessimum 
genus horum hominum videbatur, qui verba gesta- 
rent ; sunt quidam, qui vitia gestant. Horum 
sermo multum nocet ; nam etiam si non statim 
profecit, semina in animo relinquit sequiturque nos 
etiam cum ab illis discessimus, resurrecturum postea 

9 malum. Quemadmodum qui audierunt symphoniam, 
ferunt secum in auribus modulationem illam ac 
dulcedinem cantuum, quae cogitationes impedit nee 
ad seria patitur intendi, sic adulatorum et prava 
laudantium sermo diutius haeret quam auditur. 
Nee facile est animo dulcem sonum excutere ; 
prosequitur et durat et ex intervallo recurrit. Ideo 
cludendae sunt aures malis vocibus et quidem 
primis ; quom initum ^ fecerunt admissaeque insunt 

10 plus audent. Inde ad haec pervenitur verba : 

^ tuto later MSS. ; toto BA ; e toto Buecheler. 

^ comitatu tuo Buecheler ; comitatu{o) BA. 

' transerunt Hense ; transeunt BA. 

* quom initum Buecheler ; quam initium A (nam) B. 

" For the symphonia see Ep. 11. 4 and note. Compare also 
the commissiones, orchestral exhibitions, composed of many 
voices, flutes, and brass instruments, Ep. Ixxxiv. 10. 



that a high dignitary is approaching ! Everyone 
now possesses mules that are laden with crystal and 
myrrhine cups carved by skilled artists of great 
renown ; it is disgraceful for all your baggage to be 
made up of that which can be rattled along without 
danger. Everyone has pages who ride along with 
ointment-covered faces, so that the heat or the cold 
will not harm their tender complexions ; it is dis- 
graceful for any of your attendant slave-boys to show 
a healthy cheek, not covered with cosmetics. 

You should avoid conversation with all such per- 
sons : they are the sort that communicate and en- 
graft their bad habits from one to another. We used 
to think that the very worst variety of these men 
were those who vaunted their words ; but there are 
certain men who vaunt their wickedness. Their talk 
is very harmful ; for even though it is not at once 
convincing, yet they leave the seeds of trouble in 
the soul, and the evil which is sure to spring into 
new strength follows us about even when we have 
parted from them. Just as those who have attended 
a concert " carry about in their heads the melodies 
and the charm of the songs they have heard — a 
proceeding which interferes with their thinking and 
does not allow them to concentrate upon serious 
subjects, — even so the speech of flatterers and en- 
thusiasts over that which is depraved sticks in our 
minds long after we have heard them talk. It is 
not easy to rid the memory of a catching tune ; it 
stays with us, lasts on, and comes back from time 
to time. Accordingly, you should close your ears 
against evil talk, and right at the outset, too ; for 
when such talk has gained an entrance and the 
words are admitted and are in our minds, they 
become more shameless. And then we begin to 



" Virtus et philosophia et iustitia verborum inanium 
crepitus est. Una felicitas est bene vitae facere. 
Esse, bibere, frui patrimonio, hoc est vivere, hoc 
est se mortalem esse meminisse. Fluunt dies et 
inreparabihs vita decurrit ; dubitamus sapere ? Quid 
iuvat aetati ^ non semper voluptates recepturae 
interim, dum potest, dum poscit, ingerere fruga- 
htatem ? Eo mortem praecurre et quidquid ilia 
ablatura est, iam sine tibi interire.^ Non amicam 
habes, non puerum, qui amicae moveat invidiam ; 
cottidie sobrius prodis ; sic cenas tamquam epheme- 
ridem patri adprobaturus : non est istud vivere, 

11 sed alienae vitae interesse. Quanta dementia est 
heredis sui res procurare et sibi negare omnia, ut 
tibi ex amico inimicum magna faciat hereditas. 
Plus enim gaudebit tua morte,^ quo plus acceperit. 
Istos tristes et superciUosos alienae vitae censores, 
suae hostes, publicos paedagogos assis ne feceris 
nee dubitaveris bonam vitam quam opinionem bonam 

12 Hae voces non aliter fugiendae sunt quam illae, 
quas Ulixes nisi alligatus praetervehi noluit. Idem 
possunt ; abducunt a patria, a parentibus, ab amicis, 
a virtutibus et in turpem vitam misera nisi 

^ sapere ? Quid iuvat aetati Buecheler and Hense ; quod 
iuvat sapere et aetati BA. 

* sine tibi interire- Hense ; sibi inter ere BA. 

^ tua morte later MSS. ; tuamor B^A. 


speak as follows : " Virtue, Philosophy, Justice — 
this is a jargon of empty words. The only way to 
be happy is to do yourself well. To eat, drink, and 
spend your money is the only real life, the only way 
to remind yourself that you are mortal. Our days 
flow on, and life — which we cannot restore — hastens 
away from us. Why hesitate to come to our senses ? 
This life of ours will not always admit pleasures ; 
meantime, while it can do so, while it clamours for 
them, what profit lies in imposing thereupon 
frugality ? Therefore get ahead of death, and let 
anything that death will filch from you be squandered 
now upon yourself. You have no mistress, no favourite 
slave to make your mistress envious ; you are sober 
when you make your daily appearance in public ; 
you dine as if you had to show your account- 
book to ' Papa ' ; but that is not living, it is merely 
going shares in someone else's existence. And what 
madness it is to be looking out for the interests of 
your heir, and to deny yourself everything, with the 
result that you turn friends into enemies by the 
vast amount of the fortune you intend to leave ! For 
the more the heir is to get from you, the more he 
will rejoice in your taking-ofF ! All those sour fellows 
who criticize other men's lives in a spirit of priggish- 
ness and are real enemies to their own lives, playing 
schoolmaster to the world — you should not consider 
them as worth a farthing, nor should you hesitate to 
prefer good living to a good reputation." 

These are voices which you ought to shun just as 
Ulysses did ; he would not sail past them until he 
was lashed to the mast. They are no less potent ; 
they lure men from country, parents, friends, and 
virtuous ways ; and by a hope that, if not base, is 
ill-starred, they wreck them upon a life of baseness. 



turpi spe illidunt.^ Quanto satius est rectum sequi 
limitem et eo se perducere, ut ea demum sint tibi 

13 iucunda, quae honesta. Quod adsequi poterimus, 
si scierimus ^ duo esse genera rerum, quae nos aut 
invitent aut fugent. Invitant ut divitiae, volup- 
tates, forma, ambitio, cetera blanda et adridentia ; 
fugat labor, mors, dolor, ignominia, victus adstrictior. 
Debemus itaque exerceri, ne haec timeamus, ne ilia 
cupiamus. In contrarium pugnemus et ab invi- 
tantibus recedamus, adversus petentia concitemur. 

14 Non vides, quam diversus sit descendentium habi- 
tus et ascendentium ? Qui per pronum eunt, re- 
supinant corpora, qui in arduum, incumbunt. Nam 
si descendas, pondus suum in priorem partem dare, 
si ascendas, retro abducere cum vitio, Lucili, con- 
sentire est. In voluptates descenditur, in aspera 
et dura subeundum est ; hie inpellamus corpora, 
illic refrenemus. 

15 Hoc nunc me existimas dicere, eos tantum per- 
niciosos esse auribus nostris, qui voluptatem laudant, 
qui doloris ^ metus, per se formidabiles res, in- 
cutiunt ? lUos quoque nocere nobis existimo, qui 
nos sub specie Stoicae sectae hortantur ad vitia. 
Hoc enim iactant : solum sapientem et doctum esse 
amatorem. " Solus sapit * ad hanc artem ; aeque 

^ in turpem vitam misera nisi turpis illidunt Cod. Harl., 
turpi spe Capps ; inter spem vitam misera nisi turpis 
inludunt BA^. 

^ scierimus later MSS. ; fecerimus BA. 

' doloris Pine. ; dolor es BA. 

* sapit Buecheler ; apte BA. 

* i.e., to live by Stoicism rather than by Epicureanism. 
' Meaning, in line with the Stoic paradoxes, that only 
the sage knows how to be rightly in love, 



How much better to follow a straight course and 
attain a goal where the words " pleasant " and 
" honourable " have the same meaning ! ** This end 
will be possible for us if we understand that there 
are two classes of obj ects which either attract us or 
repel us. We are attracted by such things as riches, 
pleasures, beauty, ambition, and other such coaxing 
and pleasing objects ; we are repelled by toil, death, 
pain, disgrace, or lives of greater frugality. We 
ought therefore to train ourselves so that we may 
avoid a fear of the one or a desire for the other. 
Let us fight in the opposite fashion : let us retreat 
from the objects that allure, and rouse ourselves to 
meet the objects that attack. 

Do you not see how different is the method of 
descending a mountain from that employed in climb- 
ing upwards ? Men coming down a slope bend 
backwards ; men ascending a steep place lean for- 
ward. For, my dear Lucilius, to allow yourself 
to put your body's weight ahead when coming 
down, or, when climbing up, to throw it backward 
is to comply with vice. The pleasures take one down 
hill, but one must work upwards toward that which 
is rough and hard to climb ; in the one case let us 
throw our bodies forward, in the others let us put 
the check-rein on them. 

Do you believe me to be stating now that only 
those men bring ruin to our ears, who praise pleasure, 
who inspire us with fear of pain — that element 
which is in itself provocative of fear ? I believe 
that we are also injured by those who masquerade 
under the disguise of the Stoic school and at the 
same time urge us on into vice. They boast that 
only the wise man and the learned is a lover.* " He 
alone has wisdom in this art ; the wise man too is 

vol.. Tii 2 F 433 


conbibendi et convivendi sapiens est peritissimus. 
Quaeramus, ad quam usque aetatem iuvenes amandi 

16 sint." Haec Graecae consuetudini data sint,^ nos 
ad ilia potius aures derigamus : " Nemo est casu 
bonus. Discenda virtus est. Voluptas humilis res 
et pusilla est et in nullo habenda pretio, communis 
cum mutis animalibus, ad quam minima et con- 
temptissima advolant. Gloria vanum et volucre ^ 
quiddam est auraque mobilius. Paupertas nulli 
malum est nisi repugnanti. Mors malum non est ; 
quid quaeris ? Sola ius aecum generis humani. 
Superstitio error insanientis ^ est ; amandos timet ; 
quos colit, violat. Quid enim interest, utrum decs 
neges an infames ? " 

17 Haec discenda, immo ediscenda sunt ; non debet * 
excusationes vitio philosophia * suggerere. Nullam 
habet spem salutis aeger,^ quem ad intemperantiam 
medicus hortatur. Vale. 

Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem 

Possum multa tibi veterum praecepta referre, 
Ni refugis tenuisque piget cognoscere curas. 

Non refugis autem nee uUa te subtilitas abigit. 

^ haec . . . sint later MSS. ; om. BA. 

* volucre Schweighaeuser ; volve B*A ; volatile B* ; 
volubile later MSS. 

' insanientis Schweighaeuser; insanandus BA; insanus 
later MSS. 

* debet and philosophia Muretus ; debes and philosophiae 

* a^ger later MSS. ; aeque BA. 


best skilled in drinking and feasting. Our study 
ought to be this alone : up to what age the bloom 
of love can endure ! " All this may be regarded as 
a concession to the ways of Greece ; we ourselves 
should preferably turn our attention to words like 
these : " No man is good by chance. Virtue is 
something which must be learned. Pleasure is low, 
petty, to be deemed worthless, shared even by dumb 
animals — the tiniest and meanest of whom fly to- 
wards pleasure. Glory is an empty and fleeting 
thing, lighter than air. Poverty is an evil to no 
man unless he kick against the goads. Death is not 
an evil ; why need you ask ? Death alone is the 
equal privilege of mankind. Superstition is the mis- 
guided idea of a lunatic ; it fears those whom it 
ought to love ; it is an outrage upon those whom it 
worships. For what difference is there between 
denying the gods and dishonouring them ? " 

You should learn such principles as these, nay 
rather you should learn them by heart ; philosophy 
ought not to try to explain away vice. For a sick 
man, when his physician bids him live recklessly, is 
doomed beyond recall. Farewell. 


Full many an ancient precept could I give, 
Didst thou not shrink, and feel it shame to learn 
Such lowly duties." 

But you do not shrink, nor are you deterred by 
any subtleties of study. For your cultivated mind 

" Vergil, Oeorg. i. 176 f. 



Non est elegantiae tuae tain magna sectari secure.^ 
Illud probo, quod omnia ad aliquem profectum 
redigis et tunc tantum ofFenderis, ubi summa sub- 
tilitate nihil agitur. Quod ne nunc quidem fieri 
laborabo. Quaeritur, utrum sensu conprendatur an 
intellectu bonum ? Huic adiunctum est in mutis 
animalibus et infantibus non esse. 

2 Quicumque voluptatem in summo ponunt, sensi- 
bile iudicant bonum, nos contra intellegibile, qui 
illud animo damns. Si de bono sensus iudicarent, 
nullam voluptatem reiceremus, nulla enim non in- 
vitat, nulla non ^ delectat ; et e contrario nullum 
dolorem volentes subiremus, nullus enim non ofFendit 

3 sensum. Praeterea non essent digni reprehensione, 
quibus nimium voluptas placet quibusque summus est 
doloris timor. Atqui inprobamus gulae ac libidini 
addictos et contemnimus illos, qui nihil viriliter 
ausuri sunt doloris metu. Quid autem peccant, si 
sensibus, id est iudicibus boni ac mali, parent ? 
His enim tradidistis adpetitionis et fugae arbitrium. 

4 Sed videlicet ratio isti rei praeposita est ; ilia ' 
quemadmodum de beata vita,* quemadmodum de 
virtute, de honesto, sic et de bono maloque con- 

* secure. Buecheler ; sicuti or sicut MSS. 
^ nulla non later MSS. ; nulla BA. 
* ilia Haase ; illi BA. 
* de beata vita Madvig ; debeat deb{v) ita BA. 



is not wont to investigate such important subjects in 
a free-and-easy manner. I approve yom- method in 
that you make everything count towards a certain 
degree of progress, and in that you are disgruntled 
only when nothing can be accomplished by the 
greatest degree of subtlety. And I shall take pains 
to show that this is the case now also. Our question 
is, whether the Good is grasped by the senses or by 
the understanding ; and the corollary thereto is 
that it does not exist in dumb animals or little 

Those who rate pleasure as the supreme ideal 
hold that the Good is a matter of the senses ; but 
we Stoics maintain that it is a matter of the under- 
standing, and we assign it to the mind. If the 
senses were to pass judgment on what is good, we 
should never reject any pleasure ; for there is no 
pleasure that does not attract, no pleasure that does 
not please. Conversely, we should undergo no pain 
voluntarily ; for there is no pain that does not clash 
with the senses. Besides, those who are too fond of 
pleasure and those who fear pain to the greatest 
degree would in that case not deserve reproof. 
But we condemn men who are slaves to their appe- 
tites and their lusts, and we scorn men who, through 
fear of pain, will dare no manly deed. But what 
wrong could such men be committing if they looked 
merely to the senses as arbiters of good and evil ? 
For it is to the senses that you and yours have en- 
ti-usted the test of things to be sought and things 
to be avoided ! 

Reason, however, is surely the governing element 
in such a matter as this ; as reason has made the 
decision concerning the happy life, and concerning 
virtue and honour also, so she has made the decision 



stituit. Nam apud istos vilissimae parti datur de 
meliore sententia, ut de bono pronuntiet sensus, 
obtunsa res et hebes et in homine quam in aliis 

5 animalibus tardior. Quid si quis vellet non oculis, 
sed tactu minuta discernere ? Subtilior ad hoc acies 
nulla quam oculorum et intentior daret bonum 
malumque dinoscere. Vides in quanta ignorantia 
veritatis versetur et quam humi sublimia ac divina 
proiecerit, apud quem de summo, bono malo, iudicat 

6 tactus. " Quemadmodum," inquit, " omnis scientia 
atque ars aliquid debet habere manifestum sensu- 
que conprehensum, ex quo oriatur et crescat, sic 
beata vita fundamentum et initium a manifestis 
ducit et eo, quod sub sensum cadat. Nempe vos 
a manifestis beatam vitam initium sui capere dicitis." 

7 Dicimus beata esse, quae secundum naturam sint. 
Quid autem secundum naturam sit, palam et pro- 
tinus apparet, sicut quid sit integrum. Quod 
secundum naturam est, quod contigit protinus na1:o, 
non dico bonum, sed initium boni. Tu summum 
bonum, voluptatem, infantiae donas, ut inde in- 
cipiat nascens, quo consummatus homo pervenit. 

8 Cacumen radicis loco ponis. Si quis diceret ilium 
in matemo utero latentem, sexus quoque incerti,^ 

^ incerti Erasmus ; incepti BA. 

" i.e., the Epicureans. 
'' i.e., the advocate of the " touch " theory. 



with regard to good and evil. For with them" the 
vilest part is allowed to give sentence about the better, 
so that the senses — dense as they are, and dull, and 
even more sluggish in man than in the other animals, 
— pass judgment on the Good. Just suppose that 
one should desire to distinguish tiny objects by the 
touch rather than by the eyesight ! There is no 
special faculty more subtle and acute than the eye, 
that would enable us to distinguish between good and 
evil. You see, therefore, in what ignorance of truth 
a man spends his days and how abjectly he has over- 
thrown lofty and divine ideals, if he thinks that the 
sense of touch can pass judgment upon the nature 
of the Supreme Good and the Supreme Evil ! He ^ 
says : " Just as every science and every art should 
possess an element that is palpable and capable of 
being grasped by the senses (their source of origin 
and growth), even so the happy life derives its 
foundation and its beginnings from things that are 
palpable, and from that which falls within the scope 
of the senses. Surely you admit that the happy 
life takes its beginnings from things palpable to the 
senses." But we define as " happy " those things 
that are in accord with Nature. And that which is 
in accord with Nature is obvious and can be seen at 
once — just as easily as that which is complete. 
That which is according to Nature, that which is 
given us as a gift immediately at our birth, is, I 
maintain, not a Good, but the beginning of a Good. 
You, however, assign the Supreme Good, pleasure, 
to mere babies, so that the child at its birth begins 
at the point whither the perfected man arrives. 
You are placing the tree-top where the root ought 
to be. If anyone should say that the child, hidden 
in its mother's womb, of unknown sex too, delicate, 



tenerum et inperfectum et informem iam in aliquo 
bono esse, aperte videretur errare. Atqui quan- 
tulum interest inter eum, qui cum ^ maxime vitam 
accipit, et ilium, qui maternorum viseerum latens 
onus est ? Uterque, quantum ad intellectum boni 
ac mali, aeque maturus est, et non magis infans 
adhue boni capax est quam arbor aut mutum aliquod 

Quare autem bonum in arbore animalique muto 
non est ? Quia nee ratio. Ob hoc in infante quoque 
non est, nam et huic deest ; tunc ad bonum per- 
9 veniet, cum ad rationem pervenerit. Est aliquod 
inrationale ^ animal, est aliquod nondum rationale, 
est rationale sed inperfectum ; in nullo horum 
bonum, ratio illud secum adfert. Quid ergo inter 
ista, quae rettuli, distat ? In eo, quod inrationale 
est, numquam erit bonum. In eo, quod nondum 
rationale est, tunc esse bonum non potest. Esse 
in eo, quod rationale est ^ sed inperfectum, iam 
10 potest bonum, sed non est. Ita dico, Lucili : bonum 
non in quolibet corpore, non in qualibet aetate 
invenitur et tantum abest ab infantia, quantum a 
primo ultimum, quantum ab initio perfectum. Ergo 
nee in tenero, modo coalescente corpusculo est. 
Quidni non sit ? Non magis quam in semine. 

^ qui cum Erasmus ; quicumq. BA. 

* irrationale later MSS. ; in ratione BA. BA write est 
aliquod in ratione animal twice. 

* esse in eo quod rationale est Buecheler and Schweig- 
haeuser ; sed in eo q. est rationale later MSS. ; om. BA. 

" According to the Stoics (and other schools also), the 
" innate notions," or groundworlc of Icnowledge, begin to 
be subject to reason after the attainment of a child's seventh 

'' i.e., they are limited to " practical judgment." 


unformed, and shapeless — if one should say that this 
child is already in a state of goodness, he would 
clearly seem to be astray in his ideas. And yet how 
little difference is there between one who has just 
lately received the gift of life, and one who is still 
a hidden burden in the bowels of the mother ! They 
are equally developed, as far as their understanding 
of good or evil is concerned ; and a child is as yet 
no more capable of comprehending the Good than is 
a tree or any dumb beast. 

But why is the Good non-existent in a tree or in 
a dumb beast ? Because there is no reason there, 
either. For the same cause, then, the Good is non- 
existent in a child, for the child also has no reason ; 
the child will reach the Good only when he reaches 
reason.** There are animals without reason, there 
are animals not yet endowed with reason, and there 
are animals who possess reason, but only incom- 
pletely ^ ; in none of these does the Good exist, for 
it is reason that brings the Good in its company. 
What, then, is the distinction between the classes 
which I have mentioned ? In that which does not 
possess reason, the Good will never exist. In that 
which is not yet endowed with reason, the Good 
cannot be existent at the time. And in that which 
possesses reason but only incompletely, the Good is 
capable of existing, but does not yet exist. This is 
what I mean, Lucilius : the Good cannot be dis- 
covered in any random person, or at any random 
age ; and it is as far removed from infancy as last 
is from first, or as that which is complete from that 
which has just sprung into being. Therefore, it 
cannot exist in the delicate body, when the little 
frame has only just begun to knit together. Of 
course not — no more than in the seed. Granting 



11 Hoc si dicas, aliquod arboris ac sati bonum novimus ; 
hoc non est in prima fronde, quae emissa cum 
maxime solum rumpit. Est aliquod bonum tritici ; 
hoc nondum est in herba lactente nee cum folliculo 
se exerit spica mollis, sed cum frumentum aestas 
et debita maturitas coxit. Quemadmodum omnis 
natura bonum suum nisi consummata non profert, 
ita hominis bonum non est in homine, nisi cum illi ^ 

12 ratio perfecta est. Quod autem hoc bonum ? 
Dicam : liber animus, erectus, alia subiciens sibi, 
se nulli. Hoc bonum adeo non recipit infantia, ut 
pueritia non speret, adulescentia inprobe speret ; 
bene agitur cum senectute, si ad illud longo studio 
intentoque pervenit. Si hoc est ^ bonum, et in- 
tellegibile est. 

13 " Dixisti," inquit, " aliquod bonum esse arboris, 
aliquod herbae ; potest ergo aliquod esse et infantis." 
Verum bonum nee in arboribus nee in mutis anima- 
libus ; hoc, quod in illis bonum est, precario bonum 
dicitur. " Quod est ? " inquis. Hoc, quod secun- 
dum cuiusque naturam est. Bonum quidem cadere 
in mutum animal nullo modo potest ; felicioris 
meliorisque naturae est. Nisi ubi rationi locus est, 

14 bonum non est. Quattuor hae naturae sunt, arboris, 
animalis, hominis, dei ; haec duo, quae rationalia, 

1 illi later MSS. ; ilia BA. 
* est Rossbach ; et BA. 

" Just as Academic and Peripatetic philosophers some- 
times defined as " goods " what the Stoics called " advan- 


the truth of this, we understand that there is a 
certain kind of Good of a tree or in a plant ; but 
this is not true of its first growth, w^hen the plant 
has just begun to spring forth out of the ground. 
There is a certain Good of wheat : it is not yet 
existent, however, in the swelling stalk, nor when 
the soft ear is pushing itself out of the husk, but 
only when summer days and its appointed maturity 
have ripened the wheat. Just as Nature in general 
does not produce her Good until she is brought to 
perfection, even so man's Good does not exist in 
man until both reason and man are perfected. And 
what is this Good ? I shall tell you : it is a free 
mind, an upright mind, subjecting other things to 
itself and itself to nothing. So far is infancy from 
admitting this Good that boyhood has no hope of 
it, and even young manhood cherishes the hope 
without justification ; even our old age is very 
fortunate if it has reached this Good after long and 
concentrated study. If this, then, is the Good, the 
good is a matter of the understanding. 

" But," comes the retort, " you admitted that 
there is a certain Good of trees and of grass ; then 
surely there can be a certain Good of a child 
also." But the true Good is not found in trees or in 
dumb animals ; the Good which exists in them is 
called " good " only by courtesy .<* " Then what 
is it ? " you say. Simply that which is in accord 
with the nature of each. The real Good cannot find 
a place in dumb animals — not by any means ; its 
nature is more blest and is of a higher class. And 
where there is no place for reason, the Good does 
not exist. There are four natures which we should 
mention here : of the tree, animal, man, and God. 
The last two, having reasoning power, are of the 



sunt, eandem naturam habent, illo ^ diversa sunt, 
quod alterum inmortale, alterum mortale est. Ex 
his ergo unius bonum natura perficit, dei scilicet, 
alterius cura, hominis. Cetera tantum ^ in sua 
natura perfecta sunt, non vere perfecta, a quibus 
abest ratio. 

Hoc enim demum perfectum est, quod secundum 
universam naturam perfectum, universa autem 
natura rationalis est. Cetera possunt in suo genere 

15 esse perfecta. In quo non potest beata vita esse, 
nee id potest, quo beata vita efficitur, beata autem 
vita bonis efficitur. In muto animali non est beata 
vita nee id, quo beata vita ^ efficitur, in muto animali 

16 bonum non est. Mutum animal sensu conprendit 
praesentia. Praeteritorum reminiscitur, cum id 
incidit, quo sensus admoneretur ; tamquam equus * 
reminiscitur viae, cum ad initium eius admotus ^ 
est. In stabulo quidem nulla illi viae est quamvis 
saepe calcatae memoria. Tertium vero tempus, id 
est futurum, ad muta non pertinet. 

17 Quomodo ergo potest eorum videri perfecta natura, 
quibus usus perfecti temporis non est ? Tempus 
enim tribus partibus constat, praeterito, praesente, 
venturo. Animalibus tantum quod gravissimum est 
intra cursum datum, praesens. Praeteriti rara me- 
moria est nee umquam revocatur nisi praesentium 

18 occursu. Non potest ergo perfectae naturae bonum 

^ illo Schweighaeuser ; ilia BA. 

* tantum cod. Harl. and Schweighaeuser ; tarn BA. 

* nee . . . vita later MSS. ; om. BA. 

* equus later MSS. ; quos BA. 

' admotus Erasmus ; admotum BA. 



same nature, distinct only by virtue of the im- 
mortality of the one and the mortality of the other. 
Of one of these, then — to wit God — it is Nature that 
perfects the Good ; of the other — to wit man — 
pains and study do so. All other things are perfect 
only in their particular nature, and not truly perfect, 
since they lack reason. 

Indeed, to sum up, that alone is perfect which is 
perfect according to nature as a whole, and nature 
as a whole is possessed of reason. Other things can 
be perfect according to their kind. That which 
cannot contain the happy life cannot contain that 
which produces the happy life ; and the happy life 
is produced by Goods alone. In dumb animals there 
is not a trace of the happy life, nor of the means 
whereby the happy life is produced ; in dumb animals 
the Good does not exist. The dumb animal com- 
prehends the present world about him through his 
senses alone. He remembers the past only by meet- 
ing with something which reminds his senses ; a 
horse, for example, remembers the right road only 
when he is placed at the starting-point. In his stall, 
however, he has no memory of the road, no matter 
how often he may have stepped along it. The third 
state — the future — does not come within the ken 
of dumb beasts. 

How, then, can we regard as perfect the nature of 
those who have no experience of time in its perfec- 
tion ? For time is three-fold,— past, present, and 
future. Animals perceive only the time which is of 
greatest moment to them within the limits of their 
coming and going — the present. Rarely do they 
recollect the past — and that only when they are 
confronted with present reminders. Therefore the 
Good of a perfect nature cannot exist in an im- 



in inperfecta esse natura, aut si natura talis hoc 
habet/ habent et sata. Nee illud nego, ad ea, quae 
videntur secundum naturam, magnos esse mutis 
animalibus impetus et concitatos, sed inordinatos 
ac turbidos. Numquam autem inordinatum ^ est 
bonum aut turbidum. 

19 " Quid ergo ? " inquis, " muta animalia perturbate 
et indisposite moventur ? " Dicerem ^ ilia perturbate 
et indisposite moveri, si natura illorum ordinem 
caperet ; nunc moventur secundum naturam suam. 
Perturbatum enim id est, quod esse aliquando et non 
perturbatunx potest ; sollicitum est, quod potest 
esse securum. Nulli vitium est, nisi cui virtus potest 
esse ; mutis animalibus talis ex natura sua motus 

20 est. Sed ne te diu teneam, erit aliquod * bonum 
in muto animali, erit aliqua virtus, erit aliquid per- 
fectum, sed nee bonum absolute nee virtus nee 
perfectum. Haec enim rationalibus solis contin- 
gunt, quibus datum est scire quare, quatenus, quem- 
admodum. Ita bonum in nullo est, nisi in quo ratio. 

21 Quo nunc pertineat ista disputatio quaeris, et 
quid animo tuo profutura sit ? Dico : et exercet 
ilium et acuit et utique aliquid acturum occupatione 
honesta tenet. Prodest autem etiam quo moratur 
ad prava properantes.^ Sed et illud ^ dico : nullo 
modo prodesse possum magis, quam si tibi bonum 

^ si , . . habet Buecheler ; si naturalia habet. hoc habet 

^ aut before inordinatum removed by Bartsch. 

^ dicerem later MSS. ; dicere BA. 

* aliqtiod Harl. ; aliquando BA. 

^ properantes Madvig ; properante(i) MSS. 

' et tllud Harl. ; ilium BA. 



perfect nature ; for if the latter sort of nature 
should possess the Good, so also would mere 
vegetation. I do not indeed deny that dumb 
aninaals have strong and swift impulses toward 
actions which seein according to nature, but such 
impulses are confused and disordered. The Good, 
however, is never confused or disordered. 

" What ! " you say, " do dumb animals move in 
disturbed and ill-ordered fashion ? " I should say 
that they moved in disturbed and ill-ordered fashion, 
if their nature admitted of order ; as it is, they 
move in accordance with their nature. For that is 
said to be "disturbed" which can also at some 
other time be " not disturbed " ; so, too, that is said 
to be in a state of trouble which can be in a state 
of peace. No man is vicious except one who has 
the capacity of virtue ; in the case of dumb animals 
their motion is such as results from their nature. 
But, not to weary you, a certain sort of good will be 
found in a dumb animal, and a certain sort of virtue, 
and a certain sort of perfection — but neither the 
Good, nor virtue, nor perfection in the absolute 
sense. For this is the privilege of reasoning beings 
alone, who are permitted to know the cause, the 
degree, and the means. Therefore, good can exist 
only in that which possesses reason. 

Do you ask now whither our argument is tending, 
and of what benefit it will be to your mind ? I will 
tell you : it exercises and sharpens the mind, and 
ensures, by occupying it honourably, that it will 
accomplish some sort of good. And even that 
is beneficial which holds men back when they are 
hurrying into wickedness. However, I will say this 
also : I can be of no greater benefit to you than 
by revealing the Good that is rightly yours, by 



tuum ostendo, si te a mutis animalibus separo, si 

22 cum deo pono. Quid, inquam, vires corporis alis 
et exerces ? Pecudibus istas maiores ferisque na- 
tura concessit. Quid excolis formam ? Cum omnia 
feceris, a mutis animalibus decore vinceris. Quid 
capillum ^ ingenti diligentia comis ? Cum ilium vel 
efFuderis more Parthorum vel Germanorum mode 
vinxeris vel, ut Scythae solent, sparseris, in quolibet 
equo densior iactabitur iuba, horrebit in leonum 
cervice formonsior. Cum te ad velocitatem pa- 

23 raveris, par lepusculo non eris. Vis tu relictis, in 
quibus vinci te necesse est, dum in aliena niteris, 
ad bonum reverti tuum ? 

Quod est hoc ? Animus scilicet emendatus ac 
purus, aemulator dei, super humana se extollens, 
nihil extra se sui ponens. Rationale animal es. 
Quod ergo in te bonum est ? Perfecta ratio. An 
tu ad suum finem hanc evocas, in quantum potest 
plurimum crescere ? Tunc beatum esse te iudica, 

24 cum tibi ex ea ^ gaudium omne nascetur, cum visis, 
quae homines eripiunt, optant, custodiunt, nihil 
inveneris, non dico quod malis, sed quod velis. 
Brevem tibi formulam dabo, qua te metiaris, qua 
perfectum esse iam sentias : tunc habebis tuum, 
cum intelleges infelicissimos esse felices. Vale. 

^ capillum later MSS. ; eapullum BA. 
^ tibi ex ea later MSS. ; tibi ex BA. 

" One of the most conspicuous Stoic paradoxes maintained 
that " the wise man is a God." 



taking you out of the class of dumb animals, and 
by placing you on a level with God. Why, pray, 
do you foster and practise your bodily strength ? 
Nature has granted strength in greater degree to 
cattle and wild beasts. Why cultivate your beauty ? 
After all your efforts, dumb animals surpass you 
in comeliness. W^hy dress your hair with such 
unending attention ? Though you let it down in 
Parthian fashion, or tie it up in the German style, 
or, as the Scythians do, let it flow wild — yet you 
will see a mane of greater thickness tossing upon 
any horse you choose, and a mane of greater beauty 
bristling upon the neck of any lion. And even after 
training yourself for speed, you will be no match for 
the hare. Are you not willing to abandon all these 
details — wherein you must acknowledge defeat, striv- 
ing as you are for something that is not your own — 
and come back to the Good that is really yours ? 

And what is this Good ? It is a clear and flawless 
mind, which rivals that of God,* raised far above 
mortal concerns, and counting nothing of its own 
to be outside itself. You are a reasoning animal. 
What Good, then, lies within you ? Perfect reason. 
Are you wilhng to develop this to its farthest 
limits — to its greatest degree of increase ? Only 
consider yourself happy when all your joys are born 
of reason, and when — having marked all the objects 
which men clutch at, or pray for, or watch over — 
you find nothing which you will desire ; mind, I do 
not say prefer. Here is a short rule by which to 
measure yourself, and by the test of which you may 
feel that you have reached perfection : " You will 
come to your own when you shall understand that 
those whom the world calls fortunate are really the 
most unfortunate of all." Farewell. 

VOL. in 2 o 449 


Ep. xciv. deals, on the whole, with the question 
whether doctrines without pi'ecepts are enough for 
the student and the philosopher ; Ep. xcv. whether 
precepts without doctrines will suffice. Seneca con- 
cludes that they are both necessary and are comple- 
mentary to one another, especially in view of the 
complicated life which one is called upon to live, 
with its many duties and choices. The terms dis- 
cussed, with some of the Greek original definitions, 
may be summed up as follows : — 

(1) The outward expressions of kiricrT'qix.rj {scientia, 
knowledge) and of the kolvoI eVvotat (notiones com- 
imines, Trpok-jil/ets, innate ideas) are found in the fomi 
of d^tw/xara (^pronu7itiata, incontrovertible statements), 
Sdy/iara (^placita, decreta^ .scita, doctrines, tenets, 
dogmas, principles). Determined by opot {definiliones, 
definitions), they are tested by their a^ia (honestum, 
moral value), by the KptTr]piov {norma iudicii, standard 
of judgment) or Kavwv {lex, regula, etc.), and by the 
6pdo<i Aoyos {recta ratio, universal law, etc.). By such 
means the doctrines of philosophy are contrasted 
with 86^a {opinio) and with a KaTa.Xrj\j/i<; {cognitio or 
comprehensio) which falls short of completeness and 
perfection. Conduct which results from a thorough 
understanding and performance of such doctrines 
is KUTopOwp-a {reXeiov KaOy]Kov, perfectum officium, 
*' absolute duty"). 



(2) The pars praeceptiva (TrapatveTiKJ) of philosophy, 
which deals with " average duty " (KaOrJKov, coynmune 
or 7nedium officium), is approved, among others, by 
Posidonius, Cicero (see the De Officiis), and Seneca. 
It is related to active living and to the dSidcfiopa 
(media or indijferetitia) (see Subject Index) which play 
so large a role in the individual's daily existence. 
This department of "counsel," "admonition," or 
"advice" has many forms. For irapaivea-is {inonitio) 
are needed : the Adyos TrporpeTrriKos (exhoHatio), 
TOTTOs t'TTo^eriKos (suasio), diroTpoin] (dissvasio), ctti- 
TLp-rjCTLS (ohiurgatio), Adyos Trapa/MvOrjTLKOs (consolatio), 
ttiTtoAoyta {causarum inquisitio), tjOoXoyia {descriptid), 
and all the gamut of precepts which run from blame 
to praise. These are reinforced by uTrdSct^ts (probatio, 
argimientum, proof) and by such helps as xp^lai, 
d7rop.vrj[xovevfjLaTa (sententiae, proverbs, maxims). 

By such stages of advancement, TrpoKo-m] (pro- 
gressio), and relying upon TrapaSeLypara {exempUt), one 
rises, through practical precepts and the observance 
of duties, to an appreciation of the virtues, the 
contemplative mastery of the Universe, and to the 
Supreme Good, conformity with Nature (ouoAoyoi'- 
pkvwq Ty (fiva-ei. ^rjv (vivere convenienter naturae). 



The following publications may profitably be con- 
sulted by one who wishes to investigate Seneca's 
prose further : 

E. Albertini. La Compositioti dans les otivrages 
pkilosophiques de Seneque. Paris, 1923 (with 
full bibliography of recent works). 

A. BouRGERN . Setieqne pi'osateur, etudes litteraires 
et grammaticales sur la prose de Seneque le 
philosophe. Paris, 1922. 

With special reference to Ep. xc. and other 
passages, one may consult ; — 

I. Heinemann. Poseidonios' metaphysische Schriften. 

Breslau, 1921. 
K. Reinhardt. Poseidonios. Munich, 1921. 



Africa, Pompey in, xciv. 65 ; 
Cato's march tlirough the deserts 
of, civ. 33 ; crops in, cxiv. 26 ; 
marbles from, cxv. 8 

M. Vipsanins Agrippa (counsellor 
of Augustus) on harmony in 
government, xciv. 40 f. 

Alban villa (Seneca's), visit to, 
cxxiii. 1 f. 

Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), 
his conquests of Greece, Persia, 
and India, xciv. 62 f. ; cxiii. 29 f. ; 
cxix. 7 

Ancus Marcius (Roman king), 
doubtful parentage of, cviii. 30 

M. Gavius Apicius (epicure, age of 
Tiberius), extravagance of, xcv. 
42 ; gluttony of, cxx. 19 

Appius Claudius Caecus (censor 
312 B.C.), source for archaic 
oratorical style, cxiv. 13 

Archedemtjs (Stoic, of Tarsus, 
second century e.g.), authority 
of, cxxi. 1 

Ardea (on sea-coast, S. of Rome), 
country-place of Lucilius, cv. 1 

Aristo of Chius (Stoic, 3rd cent. 
B.C.), on the superfluity of pre- 
cepts, xciv. 1 tl'. ; on admira- 
tion of superfluous things, cxv. 

L. Arruntius (cos. a.d. 6), imitator 
of Sallnst's style, cxiv. 17 ff. 

Asclepiades (Greek physician at 
Rome, 2nd cent, b.c), xcv. 9 

Attains (Stoic, teacher of Seneca,), 
on philosophical ambition, cviii. 
passim ; on the worthlessness of 
riches, ex. 14 fl'. 

T. Pomponius Atticus (friend of 
Cicero), regularity of his corre- 
spondence, cxviii. 1. 

Liber(Bacchus), travels of, xciv. 63 
M. Junius Brutus (author, friend 

of Cicero, and slayer of Caesar) 

on precepts, xcv. 45 
Acilius Buta {temp. Tiberius), night 

life of, cxxii. 10 ff. 

Caecilius (temp. Cicero), penuri- 
ousness of, cxviii. 2 

Caelius (see note ad loc.) quoted, 
cxiii. 26 

Caesar (Augustus, the Emperor) 
delegates power to Maecenas, 
cxiv. 6 

C. lulius Caesar, ambition of, xciv. 
65 f. ; relations with Cato the 
Younger, xcv. 70 ; part in Clodian 
trial, xcvii. 2, 8; civ. 29 f. ; 
cxviii. 2 

Licinius Calvus (.see note ad loc), 
xciv. 25 

Cato, " wisdom " of, quoted, xciv. 
27 ; cxix. 2 

M. Porcius Cato (the Censor), 
nobility of, xcv. 72 ; civ. 21 

M. Porcius Cato (the Younger), hie 
courage in the face of Caesar and 
Pompey, xcv. 69 ft'. ; his part in 
the trial of Clodius, xcvii. Iff'.; 
heroism of, xcviii. 12 ; civ. 21 ; 
conduct during Civil War, ib. 
29ff'. ; used as a dialectic illus- 
tration, cxvii. 13; contrasted 
with Vatinius, cxviii. 4 and cxx. 
19 ; quoted, cxxii. 2 

Q. Lutatius Catulus (cos. 78 B.C.), 
witticism of, xcvii. 6 

Chimaera (see note ad Inc.), cxiii. 9 

Chrysippus (Stoic, successor of 
Cleanthes), civ. 22 ; utters great 
words, cviii. 38 ; on the source of 
muscular activity, cxiii. 23 f. 



M. Tullius Cicero, quoted in regard 

to the trial of Clodins, xcvii. 3 ff. ; 

style and rank of, c. 7 ff. ; as 

translator, cvii. 10 ; quoted (from 

the De Re Puhlica), cviii. 30 ff. ; 

on rhetorical subtleties, cxi. 1 ; 

style of, cxiv. 16; advice to 

Atticus, cxviii. 1 f. 
Cleanthes (successor of Zeno as 

head of the Stoic school), on the 

relation of precepts to general 

principles of philosophy, xciv. 

4 ft'.; hymn of, cvii. 10 f.; on 

rules of poetry, cviii. 10 ; on the 

source of muscular activity, 

cxiii. 23 f. 
P. Clodius Pulcher (d. 52 b.c), 

defendant in adultery charge, 

xcvii. 2 ff. 
Ti. Coruncanius (cos. 280 B.C.), 

source for archaic oratorical 

style, cxiv. 13 
L. Licinins Crassus (b. 140 B.C.), 

source for oratorical vocabulary, 

cxiv. 13 
M. Licinins Crassus (the triumvir), 

opponent of Cato, civ. 29 ; riches 

of, cxix. 9 
C. Scribonius Curio (cos. 76 b.c), 

source for oratorical vocabiilary, 

cxiv. 13 

Darius (king of Persia), xciv. 03 ; 

cxix. 7 
M'. Curius Dentatus (cos. 290 b.c), 

sternness of, cxx. -19 

Egypt, marbles from, cxv. 8 

Q. Ennius (Roman poet, fl. 200 

B.C.), verses on Scipio Africanus, 

cviii. 32 f.; indebtedness to 

Homer, ih. 34 
Epicurus (founder of school, 342- 

279 B.C.) quoted, xcvii. 13, 15 
Euripides (Greek tragic poet), 

anecdote of, cxv. 15 f. 

Papirius Pabianus (teacher of 
Seneca), style of, c. passim 

C Fabricius Luscinus (temp. 
Pyrrhus), self-restraint of, xcviii. 
13 ; loyalty and temperance of, 
cxx. 6 ; plainness of, cxx. 19 

Fenestella (Augustan antiquarian) 


on the death of Romdlus, cviii. 
Floralia (Roman festival, April 28 
to May 3), tributes to Cato during 
the, xcvii. 8 

Gallio (brother of Seneca), illness 

of, in Achaia, civ. 1 and note 

ad loc. 
Genius (the "patron saint" of 

Roman men), ex. 1 
Germans, bound-up hair of, cxxiv. 

C. Senipronius Gracchus (tribune 

123 B.C.), source for oratorical 

vocabulary, cxiv. 13 
Greeks, a proverb of the, cxiv. 1 ; 

preceptive philosophy of, xcv. 1 ; 

ib. 10 ; association with their 

philosophers, civ. 21 ; tragic poets, 

quoted, cxv. 14 f. 

Herci'les, travels of, xciv. 63 
Hippocrates("Fatlier of Medicine," 

5th cent. B.C.), xcv. 9; on the 

health of women, ib. 20 
Homer, indebtedness of Ennius to, 

cviii. 34 
Horatius (defender of Rome against 

Tarquins), heroism of, cxx. 7 
Q. Horatius Flaccus(poet, Augustan 

age) quoted, cxix. 13 f. ; cxx. 20 f. 

JuouRTHA (African prince, con- 
quered by Marius), xciv. 60 

Juno, dedications to, xcv. 47 ; 
patroness of women, ex. 1 

Jupiter, dedications to, xcv. 4"' ; 
ih. 72 ; addressed in hymn of 
Cleanthes, cvii. 10 f.; happiness 
of, ex. 18; independence of, cxix. 7 

C. Laelius Sapiens (friend of Scipio 

the Younger), sanity of, xcv. 72 ; 

civ. 21 
Latin language, technical terms 

in, xcV. 65 
Licinus (native of Gaul ; appointed 

governor in 15 B.C.), riches of, 

cxix. 9; cxx. 19 
T. Livius (historian, age of 

Augustus) reckoned as both 

historian and philosopher, c. 9 
Lucilius (procurator in Sicily and 

contemporary of Seneca) ad- 


dressed, passim. See Introduc- 
tion, vol. i. p. ix 
T. Lucretius Cams (Roman poet, 
1st cent. B.C.) quoted xcv. 11 ; 
on corporeality, cvi. 8 ; on fear, 
ex. 6 f. 

Maeandeb (river in Phrygia, Asia 
Minor), tortuous course of, civ. 15 

C. Cilnius Maecenas (minister of 
Augustus), his womanly fear of 
death, ci. 10 ff.; careless speech 
of, exiv. pa-Siim. ; daintiness of, 
cxx. 19 

C. Marius (see note ad toe), politi- 
cal and martial ambition of, 
xciv. 66 

Junius (?) Marullus (see note ad 
toe), consolation addressed to, 
xcix. 1 fl'. 

Metrodorus (follower of Epicurus), 
quoted, xcviii. 9 ; on the pleasure 
of sadness, xcix. 25 ff. 

Metronax, death of, xciii. 1 (and 

Mithridates (king of Pontus), con- 
quered by Pompey, xciv. 65 

lulius Montanus (poet and favourite 
of Tiberius), anecdote of, oxxii. 
11 f. 

Mucius Scaevola (hero of Etruscan 
wars), heroism of, xcviii. 12 

Cn. Naevius (early Roman writer 

of drama) quoted, cii. 16 
Pinarius Natta (see note ad toe), 

cxxii. 11 f. 
Nile, rising in summer, civ. 15 
Nomentum (Latin town 14 m. N.E. 

of Rome), Seneca's villa at, civ. 

1 ff. ; ex. 1 
Numidian outriders, cxxiii. 7 

P. OcTAVius (gourmand, age of 
Tiberius), bids against Apicius, 
xcv. 42 

P. Ovidius Naso (Roman poet, 
Augustan age), on the lower order 
of gods, ex. 1 ; on gold, cxv. 13 

Panaetitts (head of Stoic school, 
2nd cent. B.C.) on love, cxvi. 5f. 

Sextus Papiiiius (an Early Empire 
night-livei ), cxxii. 15 f. 

Partliians (tribe E. of Euphrates), 
flowing hair of. cxxiv. 22 

Paulina (wife of Seneca), civ. 2ff., 

note ad toe, and Introduction, 
vol. i. 

Pedo Albinovanus (poet, contem- 
porary of Ovid), anecdote of, 
cxxii. 15 f. 

Peripatetics, their interpretation 
of emotion, cxvi. 1 ; on wisdom 
and heing wise, cxvii. 11 f. 

Phaedo (contemporary of Plato) 
quoted, xciv. 41 

Philip (of Macedon, father of 
Alexander), conquests of, xciv. 

Phrygian priests (worshippers of 
Oybele), enthusiasm of, cviii. 7 

Plato (Athenian philosopher, 428- 
347 B.C.), Laws of, discussed by 
Posidonius, xciv. 38 ; master of 
wisdom, cviii. 38 

C. Asinius PoUio (patron of Vergil), 
style and rank of, c. 7 ff. 

Gn. Pompeius (the triumvir), am- 
bitious campaigns of, xciv. 64 f. ; 
relations with Cato the Younger, 
xcv. 70 ; part in Clodian trial, 
xcvii. 8 ; civ. 29 ff. ; cxviii. 2 

Posidonius (Stoic philosopher, 
friend of Cicero), on Plato's 
Laivs, xciv. 38 ; on precepts, 
and other aids to virtue, xcv. 
65 f. ; civ. Vi ; cviii. 38 ; on 
independence of fortune, cxiii. 
28 ; cxxi. 1 

Publilius Syrus (writer of farces, 
1st cent. B.C., and traditional 
sourceof manvproverbs) quoted, 
xciv. 28 ; cvijf 8 ff. 

Pyrrhus (king of Epirus, 3rd cent. 
B.C.), relations with Fabricius, 
cxx. 6 

Pythagoras (Greek philosopher, 
6th cent. B.C.), on impressions 
of divinity, xciv. 42 ; reasons for 
abstaining from animal food, 
cviii. 17 ff. 

M. Atilius Reoulus (hero of first 
Punic war), heroism of, xcviii. 12 

Romulus (first Roman king), death 
of, cviii. 31 

P. Rutilius Rufus (1st cent. B.C.), 
heroism of, xcviii. 12 

C. Sallustius Crispcts (historian, 
close of Republic), quoted, cix. 



16 ; aped by later historians 
because of archaic style, exiv. 
17 ff. 
P. Cornelius Scipio (Africanus 
Major) praised by Ennius, cviii. 
32 f. 
P. Cornelius Scipio (Africanus 
Minor, conqueror of Carthage in 
146 B.C.), friendship with Laelius, 
xcv. 72 
Scythians (tribe inhabiting steppes 
of S. Russia), flowing hair of, 
cxxiv. 22 
Seneca, see Introduction, vol. i. 
Cornelius Senecio (friend of Seneca), 

untimely death of, ci. 1 if. 
Sertorius (1st cent. B.C.) conquered 

by Poinpey in Spain, xciv. 64 
Servius Tullius (Roman king), 

doubtful parentage of, cviii. 30 
Q. Sextius (the Elder), declines 
honour at Caesar's hand, xcviii. 
13 ; vegetarianism of, cviii. 17 f. 
Sicily, crops in, cxiv. 26 
Socrates, resignation of, xcviii. 12 ; 
on restless travel, civ. 7 ; tfc. 21 ; 
sufferings of, civ. 27 f. 
Sotion (the Pythagorean, contem- 
porary of Seneca) on vegetarian- 
ism, cviii. 17ff. 
Stoics, on the value of precepts, 
xciv. 2 if. ; on the limits to 
mourning, xcix. 27 f. ; their many 
great masters, cviii. 38 ; resem- 
blance to early Romans in their 
opinion of the gods, ex. 1 ; their 
leaders on the»"animality " of 
the virtues, cxiii. Iff. ; on the 
primal essence, cxiii. 23 ; on the 
emotions, cxvi. Iff. and 7; on 
wisdom and corporeality, cxvii. 
Iff.; on bonum and hanestum, 
cxx. 1 ff. ; overdone ideas of 
omniscience, cxxiii. 15 f. 

Tanusius Geminos (historian 1st 
cent. B.C.), "heaviness" of, xciii. 
11. For discussion of his identi- 
fication with Volusius see edd. 
of Catullus, 36 

P. Terentius Afer (writer of 
comedies, 2nd cent b.c.) quoted 
xcv. 53 

Themison (pupil of Asclepiades, 
Ist cent. B.C.), xcv. 9 

Tiberius (Second Roman Emperor), 
puts a fish up for auction, xcv. 
42 ; opposition to foreign cults, 
cviii. 22 ; epigram of, cxxii. 10 

Tibur (now Tivoli), earthenware- 
from, cxix. 3 

Tigris, disappearance and reappear- 
ance of, civ. 15 

Q. Aelius Tubero (2nd cent, b.c), 
simple sacrifice of, xcv. 72 f.; 
xcviii. 13 ; civ. 21 ; cxx. 19 

Twelve Tables, as source for orators' 
vocabularies, cxiv. 13 

Ulysses, self-restraint of, cxxiii. 12 

Varus (an Early Empire parasite), 

epigram of, cxxii. 12 f. 
P. Vatinius (.see note ad loc.), xciv. 

25 ; cxviii. 4 ; cxx. 19 
P. Vergilius Maro, quoted, xciv. 

28 ; xcv. 33, 68 f. ; xcviii. 5 ; ci. 

4 ; ib. 13 ; cii. 30 ; civ. 10 ; ib. 

24 ; ib. 31 (comparing Cato with 

Achilles) ; cvii. 3 ; cviii. 24, 26, 

29, 34 (indebtedness to Ennius) ; 

cxiv. 23 ; cxv. 4 f. ; cxxii. 2 ; 

cxxiv. 1 
M. Vinicius (see note ad loc), cxxii. 


Zeno (founder of Stoicism), on 
death, civ. 21 ; master of wisdom, 
cviii. 38 



(to the three volumes of Seneca's Epistulae Morales) 

Arc/DESS (oTin^e/Sijicos, "contin- 
gent upon "), cxvii. 3 ff. 

a6ta<topa (see media, "indifferent" 
things), Ixxxii. 10 ff. 

adsensio, cxiii. 18 and note 

Analogy, with regard to knowledge 
of the good, cxx. 4 f. and note 

Animals, instinct (opiJ.r\) for self- 
preservation in, cxxi. passim 

an-afleta, impatientia, ix. 1 ff., xiii. 
4, Ixxxv. 3 ff., cxvi. passim 

Arch, invention of the, xc. 32 

Archaisms, in style and wording, 
Iviii. 1 ff., cxiv. 17 ff. 

Arts, four classes of, Ixxxviii. 21 ff. ; 
discovery of the, xc. 7 ff. ; in 
relation to doctrines and pre- 
cepts, xcv. 7 ff. 

Baths, distractions of the, Ivi. 1 ff. ; 
luxury of, Ixxxvi. 6 ff. 

Being,the only existing fact, accord- 
ing to Parmenides, Ixxxviii. 44 

Benefits, Ixxxi. passim 

Body, regard for the, xiv. 1 ff., 
cxxi. ;') ff. ; in relation to mind, 
cxvii. 13. etc. 

bona (''goods"), of various kinds, 
Ixvi. 5 ff. ; equality of, ib. 15 ff., 
Ixxi. 7 ff. ; desirability of, Ixvii. 
8 ff. ; falsely so called, Ixxiv. 
12 ff. ; varieties of, Ixxxviii. 6 

bonum (the "good"), xxiii. 6 ff. ; 
defined, xxxi. 6; regarded by 
Academic School as variable, 
Ixxi. 17 ff., Ixxvi. 11 ff. ; certain 
syllogisms on, Ixxxvii. passim ; 
corporeality of the, cvi. S ff., 
cxvii. 2 ff. ; is it a "living 
thing"? cxiii. 20 ff. (reduc. ad 
abfurdum); defined in several 
ways, cxviii. 8 ff. ; relation to 

the honestum, cxx. 1 ff. ; derived 
from the senses or from the 
intellect, cxxiv. 1 ff. ; limited to 
reasoning man, cxxiv. 7 ff. 
Books, thoroughness in reading, 
ii. passim ; xlv. 1-5 ; selective 
reading of, Ixxxiv. 1 ff. 

Calx, cviii. 32 

Categories, of Aristotle, Ixv. 3 ff. 

and notes 
cause (contrasted with matter), as 

discussed by the Stoics, Aristotle, 

and Plato, Ixv. 2 ff. 
Circles, as indications of time, 

.small and large, xii. (i ff. 
compositio (arrangement of words), 

cxiv. 15 ff. 
Consolation, to the bereaved, Ixiii., 

Contempt, as a source of safety, 

cv. 2 ff. 
Country-places, Seneca's, xii. 1-4 ; 

Scipio's, Ixxxvi. pasiim ; civ. 1 ff. , 

ex. 1, cxxiii. 1 ff. 

Death, scorn of, iv. 3 ff., xxii. 

13 ff., xxiv. passim, xxvi. 4 ff.; 

anticipation of, xxx. 4 ff., xxx^ i. 

8 ff., Ixi., Ixxxii. 16 ff., xciii. 

passim ; suddenness of, ci. 1 ff. ; 

resignation of, cii. 26 ff. 
decreta (dogmas), see Appendix A, 

Ep. xciv. 32, etc. ; specially de- 
fined, xcv. 44 ; necessity of, xcv. 

61 f. 
Degeneracy of morals, xcvii. ]Mssim 
distantia, defined and contrasted 

with continua and composita, cii. 

6 and note. 
distinctio (differentiation) of Chrys- 

ippus, ix. 14 f. 



Drunkenness, Ixxxiii. passim 

Emotions, as expressed by the 
features, xi. passim ; during peril, 
Ivii. 3 ff. ; of bereaved women, 
Ixiii. 13 ; only transitory in the 
wise man's case, Ixxi. 29 ; defined 
as "passions," Ixxv. 11 f. ; subject 
to reason, Ixxxv. 2 ff. ; corporeal- 
ity of the, cvi. 5 ff. ; should be 
checked at the start, cxvi. 2 ff. 

eiscntia (ovcrCa), discussed, Iviii. 6 ff. 
and note. 

exempla (patterns of conduct and 
pliilosophy), vi. 5 ff., xi. 8 ff., 
XXV. 5 ff., lii. 7 ff., xclv. 55 f., 
72 ff., xcv. 69 ff., civ. 21 ff. 

Exercise, In moderation, xv. 1-6, 
Ixxxiii. 3 ff. 

expetibile, as distinguished from 
expetendum, cxvii. 5 

Extracts {flosculi, summaries, 
maxims, chriai), xxxiii. passim, 
esp. 7 and note, xxxix. 1 f. and 
note ; in proverbial form, xciv. 
27 f. 

Fame, xliii. 3, Ixxix. 13 ff. ; mis- 
guided desire for, xciv. 64 ff. ; as 
a good, cii. 3 ff. 

Fate, xvi. 4; complaints against, 
xciii. 1 f. 

Figures of speech, abuse of, cxiv. 

Fortune (Chance), treachery of, 
viii. 3 f. ; groundless fear of, xiii. 
passim, xvi. 4, xviii. 6 f. ; robs us 
of our friends, Ixiii. 7 f. ; gifts of, 
Ixxii. 7 tf. ; game of, Ixxiv. 6 ff. ; 
her part in the Lyons fire, xci. 
2 ff. ; fickleness of, xcviii. passm ; 
equipment against, cxiii. 27 f. ; 
inducements of, cxviii. 3 ff. 

Friendship, distinctions in, iii. 
passim; as applied to the wise 
man, ix. passim, xix. 10 f., xxxv., 
xlviii. 2 ff., Iv. 9 ff. ; impartiality 
of, Ixvi. 24 ff. 

GsjfL'S, in relation to species, Iviii. 

8 ff. and notes 
Gladiatorial combats, cruelty of, 

vii. 2 ff. ; rigorous training for, 

xxxvii. 1 f., Ixxx. 1 ff. 
Glass, invention of, xc. 25 


God, xvi. 4 ; kinship with, xviii. 
12 f.,xxxi. 9 ff., xli., Ixxxiii. 1; 
as Master Builder of the Uni- 
verse, Iviii. 27 f., Ixv. 19 ff. ; 
obedience to, in the face of 
obstacles, xcvL 2; as Creator, 
cxiii. 16 

Gods, compared with sages, Ixxiii. 
12 ff. ; sharing reason with men, 
xcii. 27 ff. ; belief in, xcv. 50; 
popular, ex. 1 

Golden Age, xc. 36 ff. ; simplicity 
and health of the, xcv. 13 ff. 

Grammatious, defined, Ixxxviii. 3 
and note; as a critic of Vergil, 
cviii. 24 and note 

Happiness, dependent upon one- 
self, ix. 20 f. ; defined, xcii. 3 ff. ;' 
summing up all the benefits of 
philosophy, xciv. 8 ; in its rela- 
tion to precepts, xcv. 4 tf. 

Hmieftum, Ixvi. 9 ff. and note, Ixxi. 4, 
Ixxiii. passim, Ixxvi. 6 ff., Ixxxv. 
17 ff. ; relation to bonuvi, cxviii. 
10 ff., oxx. 1 ff. 

Idea (of Plato), Ixv. 7 and note 

idos (61609), Iviii. 20 f., Ixv. 4 and 

Ill-health, and death, liv. 1 ff. ; 
bravery in the face of, xxx. 1 ff., 
Ixvi. 1 ff. ; relieved by philo- 
sophy, Ixxviii. Iff.; of Lucilius, 
xcvi. 3 ; civ. 1 ff. ; of the mind, 
Ixviil. 8 f. 

iDmgints (similes), proper use of, 
lix. 6 f. 

incommoda (disadvantages), Ixxii. 5 

Joy (gaudium), xxiii. 4 ff. ; as con- 
trasted with common pleasure, 
lix. 1 ff., 14 ff. 

KaBriKovTa (duties), Ixxxi. 9 ff. 
Knowledge (passim), discussed and 
defined, cxx. 3 ff. 

Learning, excess in, xxvii. 5 ff. 

Lectures, debasing effect of, lii. 
8 ff. ; on philosophy, Ixxvi. 1 ff. ; 
perfunctory, cviii. 5 ff. 

Liberal studies, Ixii. 1 ; defined, 
Ixxxviii. 1 ff. and note 

Love, and other emotions, in rela- 
tion to wisdom, cxvi. 5 ff. 


Magistfr populi, cviii. 31 

malum (evil), pasnim ; defined, 
Ixxxv. 28 ; discussed, ih. passim 

Mathematics (contrasted witli 
philosophy), Ixxxviii. 10 ft'. 

Matter (contrasted with cause), Ixv. 
•2 ft'. 

Media (" indift'erent " things, 
neither good nor bad), Ixvi. 
36 f., Ixxxii. 10 ft'., cix. 12 f. ; 
"being wise" not an "indift'er- 
ent" quality, cxvii. 9 f. 

Mime (farce), as reflector of slave- 
life, xlvii. 14 

Moral Philosophy, passim ; Seneca's 
projected book on, cvi. 2 and 
note, cviii. 1, cix. 17 

Mourning, rules for, Ixiii. 13 f. ; 
limits to, xcix. passim 

Nature, as embodied in contented 
poverty, ii. 5 f., iv. 10 f. ; as 
plain living, xviii. 5 ft'., xx. 7 ft"., 
xxvii. 9, Ixxxvii. 1 ff., etc. ; life 
according to, xvi. 7 f., xxv. 4 ft"., 
XXX. 4, xli. 9, xciii. 2 ft"., evil. 
7 ft"., exix. 2 If. ; in Seneca's own 
case, cviii. 13 ft'., cxxiii. 2 ft'. ; 
as source of reason, Ixvi. 39 f. , 
etc. ; as explanation of rugged 
character in mountainous coun- 
tries, 11. 10 f. 

olKovofiiKri (with "civil," a further 
division ot philosophy), Ixxxix. 

Old Age, xii. jxissim, xxvi. 1 ff. ; 
Seneca's feebleness, Ixvii. 1 ; as 
an " external " thing, xciii. 7 

ofioAoyi'a (conformity, consistency 
of virtue), Ixxiv. 80 ft". 

Pain, as torture, xiv. 3 ft'., xxiv. 

3 ff. ; with rei^erencB to virtue, 

Ixvi. 18 ft'. ; endurance of, Ixvii. 

3 ft". , Ixxviii. 7 ft'. ; as endured by 

Maecenas, ci. 10 ft'. 
TrapaSo^a, Ixxxi. 11 f. and note, 

Ixxxvii. 1 
pauperum cellae, xviii. 7 and note, 

c. 6 and note 
phaecasium, cxiii. 1 and note 
<f>iKriTai (street rowdies), li. 13 

and note 

ph ilologns, on Cicero's De Re Fuhlica, 
cviii. 30 f. 

Philosophy, and conformity, v. 1 ft'. ; 
as refuge, xiv. 11 ft'., xvi. passim ; 
and riches, xvii. passm; benefits 
of, xxxvii. 3 ff. ; as critic of 
human worth, xliv. j)a«sim; in- 
spiration of, liii. 8 ft'. ; demands 
of, Ixxii. 3 ff. ; as a public service 
(active or in retirement), Ixxiii. 
1 ff. ; impregnability of, Ixxxii. 
5 ff. ; as imagined in Homer, 
Ixxxviii. 5 ft'. ; divided into 
physics, logic, ethics, ib. 24 f. ; 
divided and defined, Ixxxix. 4 ff. ; 
twofold Epicurean division, ib. 
11; single Cyrenaic, ib. 12; moral 
ib., 14 ft'. ; natural ib., 16; rational 
ib., 17 f. ; in relation to human 
progress, xc. passim; as escape 
from dangers, ciii. 4 f. ; aid from, 
cviii. 4 ft'. ; as interpreting poetry, 
cviii. 25 ff. 

Pleasure, in plain living, xxi. 10 f. ; 
instability of, xxvii. 2 f., xxxix. 
5 f. ; developing into vice, li. 4 ft". ; 
two kinds of, Ixxviii. 22 ft. ; 
devices of, xe. 19; in sadness, 
xcix. 25 ft'. ; to be avoided, civ. 
34; devotion to gluttony and 
late hours, cxxii. 2 ft'. ; followers 
of plea.sure limit the good to the 
senses, cxxiv. 2 ft'. 

Poetry, as an aid to good ideas, 
viii. 8ff., cviii. 8 ft'. 

Potter's wheel, discovery of the, 
xc. 31 

Prayer, x. 5; of the wrong sort, 
Ix., cxvii. 23 f. ; of the right 
sort, Ixvii. 7 ft'. ; as a curse ujjon 
an enemy, ex. 2 f. 

Precepts (advice, see Appendix 
A), xciv. and xcv. passim, cix. 
14 ff. 

prima litteratura {irpuirr) ayoiyri, 
elementary schooling), Ixxxviii. 

principale IriyenoviKov, " ruling 
power," a part of the world-soul 
which stimulates action in living 
beings), cxiii. 23, cxxi. 9 ff. and 

prodwta (ccymmoda, "advantages "), 
Ixxiv. 17 ff. and note 

npoKoirij (progress), Ixxi. 30, and 



note, Ixxii. 6 ff., Ixxv. 8 tf. ; pro- 
ficitns, cix. 15 
pseudomenos, xlv. 10 and note 

Re APSE, cviii. 32 

Reason {ratio), as curb of passions, 
xxxvii. 4; detinerl, Ixvi. 12 ff. and 
note ; the source of perfection 
and the good, cxxiv. 23 f. 

Retirement, as contrasted with 
participation in affairs, viii. 1 ff., 
x. 1 f., xiv. 3 ff., xix. passim, 
XX ii. passim, xxxvi. passim^, Ivi. 
1 ff. ; mistaken idea of, Iv. 4 ff., 
xciv. 69 ff. ; in Seneca's own case, 

• Ivi. 9 fl'., Ixxiii. passim 

Sage, dual make-up of the, Ixxi. 
27 and note 

sapere, as distinguished from sapi- 
entia, cxvii. 1 ff. 

Scientific observation, on Etna, li. 
1 ; Etna and Sicily, Ixxix. 1 ff. ; 
xc. 10 ft'. 

Self-sufticiency, ix. 13 ff'., etc. 

Senses, inadequacy of the, Ixvi. 35 

sepse, cviii. 32 

Sin, and reform, xxv. 1-3, cxii. 
passim ; its removal through 
knowledge, xxviii. 9 f., xxix. 
4 ff., xlii. 1 ff., 1. 4 ft'.; one's 
own, Ixviii. 8 ff. ; reasons for, 
xciv. 13 f., 21; and conscience, 
xcvii. 12 ff. 

Slavery, xlvii. passim 

Soul, defined, cxiii. 14 and note ; 
divinity of the, xli. 5 ff. ; its 
contemplative function, Ixv. 16 
ft". ; source and destination, 
Ixxxviii. 34 ; sustainer of life, 
xcii. 1 ff. and note ; parts of the, 
xcii. 8 ft", and note ; unity of the, 
cxiii. 14 and note ; ruler of the 
body, cxiv. 23 ff. ; indicator of 
character, cxiv. 1 ff. 

Soul after Death, various possibili- 
ties, Ixxi. 16 and note ; its release, 
Ixv. 16 ff., Ixxix. 12, xcii. 30 ff. ; 
method of departure, Ivii. 6 ff., 
Ixxvi. S3 ; eternity of the, cii. 
21 ft"., cxx. 17 ft". ; transmigration, 
cviii. 17 ft". ; reunion of friends in 
another world, Ixxviii. 28 

speoits, in relation to genus, Iviii. 


style, eccentric in case of Maecenas 
xix. 9 f., cxiv. 4 ff. ; rapid, xl 
2 ff. ; national characteristics of, 
xl. 11 f. ; of Luciliu-s, xlvi. 2, lijf'-' 
4 ff. ; simplicity and sincerity of. 
Ixxxv. 3 ft". ; of Fabianus, c. i fl'7' 

Suicide, xjiiv. 25, xxx. 15, Iviii. 
32 ff., Ixx. 4 ff. and note, Ixxvii. 

supervacua, xlii. 6 ff., ex, 12 ff. 

Supreme Good, defined, Ixvi. 6 ff. ; 
according to Epicurus ib., 45 ft"., 
Ixxi. passim, Ixxii. 5, Ixxi v. 16, 26; 
another definition, Ixxxv. 20 ; 
source of, Ixxxvii. 21 ; xcii. 5 ff. ; 
independence of the, ix. 15, cix. 
1 ff. 

Syllogisms, futility of, xlv. 8 ff. ; 
as interrogations, quaestiunculae, 
" posers," logical fallacies, xlviii. 
4 ff., xlix. 8 f., Ixxxii. 8 ff., 21 ff., 
Ixxxiii. 8 ft'., Ixxxv. passim; on 
the Good, riches, poverty, etc., 
Ixxxvii. passim ; vanity of, cii. 
20 ff. ; cavillationes, sophismata, 
cxi. passim, cxiii. 26, cxvii. 26 ff. 

Ta BELLARiAB (naves), packet-ships 
from Alexandria, Ixxvii. 1 f. 

Theatre, hoUowness of the pro- 
fession, Ixxx. 7 f. 

Time, saving of, i. passim, xxxii. 
3 f., xlix. 2 ff. ; discussed, 
Ixxxviii. 33 f. and note 

translat tones (metaphors), proper 
use of, lix. 6 

Transplanting, of olive-trees and 
vines, Ixxxvi. 14 ff. 

Travel, and peace of mind, xxviii. 
1-8 ; hardships of sea- voyaging, 
liii. 1 ff. ; by land, Ivii. 1 ff. ; 
vanity of, Ixix. 1 ft'., civ. 13 ff. 

Virtue (passim), acquisition of, 1. 
7 ff. ; power of, Ixiv. 6 ff., Ixvi. 
2 ff. ; uniformity of, Ixxi. 8 ff., 
Ixxix. 10 ft'. ; identical with truth, 
Ixxi. 16 ; twofold asi)ect of, xciv. 
45 f. ; a vision of, cxv. 3 ft'. ; 
divided into its parts, cxx. 11 f. 

'Virtues (prudence, justice, bravery, 
temperance), discussed, Ix vii. 3 ff. , 
Ixxxv. passim, Ixxxviii. 2'.» ff. ; 


prudence, bravery, justice, etc., cxv. 9 ff. ; the true variety, cxix. 

xcv. 55 ff. ; whether tliey possess 5 ff. 

life, cxiii. passim Wisdom (sapientia, <roij)Ca), defined, 

oice, training of the, xv. 7 ff. xx. 5, Ixxxviii. 32 f. ; as aji art, 

xxix. 3 ; the heritage of, Ixiv. 

'ealth, as handicap to philosopliy, 7 f . ; defined by Socrates, Ixxi. 

xvil. passim ; as a source of evil, 7, Ixxxiv. 12 f. ; distinguished 

Ixxxvii. 22 ff. ; to be avoided, civ. from philosophy, Ixxxix. 4 ff. ; 

S4 ; scorn of, cviii. 11 f. ; empti- her accomplishments, xc. 26 ff. ; 

ness of, ex. 14 ff. ; the curse of, mutual benefits of, cix. 1 ff. 




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